Alexey Smertin wants Fulham to qualify for Europe within the next two seasons after claiming the club’s stability convinced him to snub several rival offers.
Smertin rejected approaches from Blackburn, Middlesbrough and West Ham – among others – during the January transfer window to sign a two-and-a-half-year contract with Fulham.
The Russia midfielder has yet to taste victory six games into his return to the Barclays Premiership as Chris Coleman’s side glance nervously over their shoulders at the relegation battle below.
Fulham sit just five points off the drop zone with seven matches left to play but Smertin insists morale remains high.
“There were many, many reasons why I chose Fulham but I think the main one is that Fulham is a good, very stable team in the Premiership,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going too badly for us at the moment despite the results and the fact that we haven’t won.
“The atmosphere is still very good and I am very happy in this team.”
He added: “I would like to get into Europe with Fulham.
“That’s important for me and for the club, but first of all it’s important to finish as high as possible in the table.”
Smertin, who was originally signed by Chelsea for £3.45million from Bordeaux in 2003, was lured back to England just a year into his new contract with Dynamo Moscow.
The 31-year-old found himself missing the Premiership and had no hesitation leaving his homeland.
“I got involved in the Fulham team quickly, which is what I wanted, so I feel very comfortable here,” he said.
“There is a very good atmosphere in the dressing room and that’s what I missed when I was in Russia.
“I missed the atmosphere on the pitch, in the dressing room and in training.
“I started to play in Russia but I said to myself, ‘It’s not my football’. I quit Russia six years ago and my mind and my football changed.
“I’ve lived in Europe for six years and I’ve got used to the type of football here.
“As soon as I came to the UK I said it was my type of football because it’s aggressive and dynamic.
“When I went to Moscow I signed a contract for four years, but after one season I cancelled it so I could come back to the UK.”