Josh Doig insists the desire to play at the highest level meant he had to leave Hibernian for Hellas Verona.
The 20-year-old full-back joined Hibs’ academy from Edinburgh rivals Hearts in 2019 before going on to make 86 first-team appearances for the Hibees.
On Wednesday, his move to the Serie A outfit was confirmed on a four-year-deal for a reported fee of around £3m.
Hibs, who confirmed the deal includes “add-ons and a large sell-on agreement”, moved quickly to replace Doig by bringing in Croatian left-back Marijan Cabraja from Dinamo Zagreb.
In a sign-off interview with HibsTV, Doig admitted feeling “a bit emotional…a shock to the system, daunting but a good thing for myself” as he explained his decision to move to Italy.
He said: “For every player, it is (about) playing at the highest level that you can and are able to. Serie A is a big leap for me.
“Some of the players playing there at the moment are world-class players and for my development that was the next move that felt right.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead but to play at the highest level for the rest of my career is something I want to do.
“The only way you can improve yourself is by leaving that comfort zone and I will definitely be doing that but hopefully in the long run it’s the best decision.
“I have played a lot of games here (Hibs) so now, going over there, it has to be playing more games, it has got to be good for my development.
“I am still learning as a player, I am nowhere near the finished product, nothing like that. I have so much learning to do.
“Being here was probably the best thing for me but hopefully going over there brings game time and more development for myself.”
Cabraja has signed a three-year contract subject to a work permit after Hibs paid an undisclosed fee to Zagreb.
The 25-year-old has put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal and the terms of his transfer will remain undisclosed.
The former Croatia Under-21 international has won titles in his homeland and Hungary, with Ferencvaros
Manager Lee Johnson said: “He has history of playing at a very high level and is the perfect age to add to our group. He’s athletic, a really technical left-back who has quality on the ball through his delivery and distribution.”
Chief executive Ben Kensell earlier explained that Doig’s transfer was the “perfect outcome” for club and player.
“We have received what is a really significant fee for this football club, money that will be reinvested into the first-team squad,” he added.
“This is a great example of what we want Hibs to be; a club that gives young, talented players a platform to shine before they generate substantial fees to reinvest into the club and the playing squad. This is how we will grow as a football club.”