Antonis Stergiakis says he was ready for a new challenge in his career – despite the surprise nature of his move to Ewood Park.

Rovers made their move over the weekend for the Greece Under-21

international who by Monday was flying to England to finalise his move before the 11pm deadline. The deal wasn’t ratified until the Tuesday, once international clearance was received, allowing Stergiakis to train with his team-mates on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old has spent the last six years in Bulgaria, playing around 80 competitive fixtures, but was ready for a fresh start as he headed into the final year of his deal at Slavia Sofia.

That allowed Rovers to agree a deal which sees them pay no upfront fee for the goalkeeper.

And he told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I said six months ago that I was ready for the next step and this step came now in England with Blackburn.

“It’s a really good opportunity for me to be at a better level and it’s a challenge for me because it’s a very big club. I’m very happy.”

Much like Thomas Kaminski, the prospect of playing in England for Antonis Stergiakis isn’t a daunting one.

Stergiakis travelled to Bulgaria, without any knowledge of the language, to sign for Slavia Sofia where he would go on to play around 80 times for the first-team, spending six years at the club.

Kaminski may have signed from AA Gent in his native Belgium, but earlier in his career had spells in Cyprus and Denmark to get the necessary experience a young goalkeeper requires.

Although six years separate the pair, they were both ready to test themselves in England, and so Rovers find their goalkeeping department led by a Belgian and a Greek. Adapting to his new surroundings is made easier by his ability to speak very good English, something he needed to call upon during his time in Sofia.

“At the age I was, I was 16 when I moved to Bulgaria it was difficult because it was a very different country, different language, it wasn’t easy to learn. That was difficult,” he explained.

“Five years ago I didn’t know Bulgarian so I had to speak English so it’s easier for me.

“But I had good coaches, good team-mates with a good chemistry who helped me learn how it was to play in Bulgaria.

“That’s why I played all of those games, because they supported me.”

And Stergiakis feels his game has developed during his time in Sofia because of the number of games he’s been able to play.

He added: “It’s helped a lot. I was with very good people there, trained hard, and got the maximum level I could in Bulgaria, and I played 80 games so that’s good, it was a very good experience for me. It’s a lot, but every time I need to get better to play more.”

The process of settling into the club has already begun for Stergiakis, training with his team-mates for the first time on Wednesday, while his search for somewhere to live has already begun.

He hadn’t spoken to Tony Mowbray prior to signing for the club, but based upon his conversation before his first training session on Wednesday, when the players returned from their mini-break during the international hiatus, Stergiakis pinpointed one quality about the manager.

“I spoke with him before training for the first time and he sounded a good person,” he said.

“He’s really honest and for me that’s the most important thing.

“He’s a coach and you need to be honest with your players.”

Rovers have worked hard to cement their goalkeeping department ever since the departure of David Raya last summer.

The departures of Christian Walton and Jayson Leutwiler opened up vacancies in that position which meant goalkeepers were always high on the priority in the transfer window.

Rovers took their search to Europe, bringing in Kaminski and Stergiakis, with youngsters Andrew Fisher and Jordan Eastham, as well as Joe Hilton who is currently injured, waiting in the wings.

Kaminski has impressed in his early outings for the club, keeping three successive clean sheets, and it’s expected that Stergiakis will have to be patient for his opportunities.

But that won’t stop Stergiakis from putting in the hard yards in a bid to challenge Kaminski for the No.1 spot.

“We have a good chemistry, that’s fine, the competition is good between us,” he said of Rovers’ goalkeeping contingent.

“When you have good goalkeepers around you are motivated to work hard which is good.

“Everything is about patience and about work.

“You work hard every day to try and get better and that’s the key to playing.”

Stergiakis has five caps for Greece Under-21s and is particularly proud of his involvement with the national team.

He’s equally excited by the prospect of playing in England having admitted: ‘If I watch football on the TV then I watch only English football’.

He will hope it won’t just be a watching brief for him at Rovers as he begins the next chapter of his career at Ewood Park.

He said: “Three or four days before they informed that I would be coming to England to sign for Blackburn.  I was really excited and I was very surprised.

“It was crazy, I said ‘yes’ because I knew the team in England so I didn’t even think about it.”