The former Sydney FC striker, who joined North Queensland Fury in the Australian pre-season but left before playing a game, had a brilliant debut season in the Chinese Super League and loved his time with the Blades.
Santalab told tribalfootball .com: “After such a great run of games with the Blades where I scored nine goals, everyone at the club is buzzing with me.
“I got along really well with my teammates and was their favourite foreigner. The reason is apart from my good form is that being Australian we are pretty laid back and take things in our stride whereas some of the other foreigners, especially some from South America, find it harder to adjust and this seems to annoy the Chinese players and club officials.
“I really enjoyed my season at the Blades after joining them half-way through their season. I made an immediate impact scoring so many goals.
“The club Chengdu Blades is actually a really great club and they have a close relationship to Sheffield United in England so they seem to have taken some of the better points from the English club and built that into their structure and culture.”
Santalab wanted to set the record straight on exactly what happened with the situation involving the Fury, saying he was told to find a new deal if possible.
“People ask me why I walked out on North Queensland Fury,” he added.
“Well I didn’t walk out, I was pretty well told by the coaching staff that I was not in their plans and if I had opportunity to find another deal somewhere else that they would not stand in my way.
“I have been around football long enough to know when the writing is on the wall. They didn’t think I could do a job for them and that sits fine with me.
“I appreciated their honesty and at least it allowed me to go off and find a career elsewhere. The fact that it turned out so well with Chengdu Blades is fantastic. I really owe the Fury as it has turned out to be a pivotal moment in my career to date.”
In regards to his playing future, Santalab said he was still unsure, but revealed he would one day love to play in Australia again.
“I am not sure what the future holds but I do have another season on my contract and my agent (Lou Sticca) has been in talks with Chengdu already about an extension,” Santalab said.
“But I do think at some point, I will definitely be back in Australia to play so that will be something to look forward to. At 27 I am still learning the game and want to test myself and push on as far as my career can take me!”