updated 04/15/2014 AT 3:50 PM ET
•originally published 04/15/2014 AT 6:00 PM ET
Now that it’s official, Robin Roberts admits she couldn’t be happier that Michael Strahan will be joining the Good Morning America family.
“Talk about somebody who’s the real deal,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.
“He’s pure talent,” Roberts says of Strahan, who’ll be coming aboard the broadcast a few times a week while still continuing to serve as co-host of Live! With Kelly and Michael.
Having worked with Strahan, 42, while filling in for Kelly Ripa on Live!, Roberts says that the ex-football pro “has such a big heart.” During commercial breaks, she notes, “he talks to the audience the entire time.”
He’s also a “gentleman,” Roberts, 53, raves about the former New York Giants defensive end, who sent her flowers after her guest stint.
Strahan’s arrival at GMA has been in the works for months, according to a source. The news comes on the heels of high-profile exits by two people who helped turn GMA into the No. 1 morning show: news anchor Josh Elliott, who joined NBC sports, and weather anchor Sam Champion, who moved to the Weather Channel.
Although Roberts says she considers Elliott and Champion “friends for life,” she is confident Strahan will leave his own mark on the show.