Gian Piero Gasperini was stunned to receive the call asking if he wanted to manage Inter Milan and now intends to build on the club's existing foundations to bring success back to the blue-and-black half of Italy's second city.
The 53-year-old Italian, sacked by mid-table Serie A side Genoa in November, was named Inter boss last week to succeed Leonardo after a string of more high-profile names turned down approaches.
"I'm so proud to be here at Inter," Gasperini told Inter Channel on his first day at work on Monday.
"It came as a huge surprise but now I am very ambitious and determined to do well, to have a big season."
His appointment has not met with universal approval from fans but president Massimo Moratti, whose side surrendered their Serie A title to AC Milan last term and also lost their European Cup crown, has hailed his fourth coach in just over a year.
"(His praise) motivates me even more to have a successful season, which is what I intend to do by creating a very close-knit and strong group," Gasperini said.
"But the foundations with those characteristics are already in place."
Top players Samuel Eto'o, Wesley Sneijder and Maicon have all been linked with moves away while goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano looks set to return from a spell at Bologna and Santos fullback Jonathan is close to joining, media reports have said.
Inter are also set to hear soon from the Italian football federation about whether their 2006 scudetto, the first in a run of five straight titles, will be taken from them after new evidence suggested their involvement in a 2006 match-fixing affair.
The club deny wrongdoing.