At my age I had to take Arsenal chance - Arteta
Mikel Arteta has paid tribute to former club Everton for providing him with "probably the best time of my career" but claimed the lure of Champions League football at Arsenal was impossible to resist.
Arteta, 29, joined the Gunners in a deal worth around £10 million just before the end of the summer transfer window on Wednesday night, ending his six-year spell at Goodison Park.
The Spanish midfielder, along with fellow new signing Yossi Benayoun, were recruited by Arsene Wenger to fill the creative void left in Arsenal's midfield by the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively.
And Arteta feels the opportunity to play in Europe's premier club competition was too difficult to turn down, defending his decision to force through a move after Everton initially rejected Arsenal's advances.
"It is a big opportunity for me and my family and I think it is the right time for me to take it,'' Arteta said. "It is a big challenge, a different challenge, fresh for me and I want to see myself on the biggest stage, the Champions League.
"I am 29 years old so I haven't got much time left to take a chance like this one. I think I have done my best for Everton. I always try hard, I have been as professional as I could and I was grateful for the support and the love that the club and the fans showed me.
"It is very difficult to say goodbye. I still can't believe it but at the same time I think it is the right moment for everyone. That is the way football is, there is always a start and an end and today is the end of probably the best time of my career. I am never going to forget it.
"It has been crazy. I can't believe what happened, and the way it happened but as I said, that is part of football and I am going to be playing for another club soon. Obviously I am never going to forget what I have done here and what the people and this club have done for me.''
Arteta's departure coincided with that of striker Jermaine Beckford to Championship side Leicester - although that had been planned for - with the only arrivals being season-long loans for Real Madrid's Royston Drenthe and Argentinian striker Denis Stracqualursi.