West Ham United are pleased to confirm the club will be taking on SSC Napoli in the traditional curtain-raiser to the new season on Saturday 8 August at the Boleyn Ground.
The match, to be played for the Bobby Moore Cup, was finalised on Wednesday afternoon. It will be a fitting fixture ahead of Gianfranco Zola's first full campaign in charge. It was at Napoli where the manager's playing career took off in the late 1980s. That culminated in Zola playing a part in the Naples club winning only their second Serie A title when a certain Diego Maradona led the way to success in the 1989/90 campaign.
This will be the second visit by an Italian club in three years after Roma's visit in 2007. Coached by former Italy manager Roberto Donadoni, Napoli will provide a similarly strong test for Zola's side before the Barclays Premier League season begins a week later. In a hugely competitive Serie A, Napoli finished the 2008/09 season in 13th place but have already begun strengthening for next season.
Italy forward Fabio Quagliarella has just joined an attack that already boasts Argentina ace Ezequiel Lavezzi and the highly-regarded Slovakia playmaker Marek Hamsik. At the back, there are the likes of Fabiano Santacroce, who played under Zola in the Italy Under-21 set-up and has already figured in the Azzurri's senior squad. Hamsik and Santacroce, along with team-mate Daniele Mannini, are well-known to technical director Gianluca Nani as he spotted them for Brescia before their sales to Napoli.
The prestige pre-season opener at the Boleyn Ground has attracted a host of leading clubs in recent years including PSV Eindhoven (2-1, 2003), Anderlecht (4-4, Anderlecht win 5-4 on penalties, 2004), Osasuna (1-1, 2005), Olympiakos (1-1, 2006), AS Roma (2-1, 2007).
Last season, Carlton Cole scored in a 1-1 draw against Villarreal - the first time the pre-season curtain-raiser was played as the Bobby Moore Cup. That match was also notable for being the last time the club legend's famed No6 was worn, with Matthew Upson handing over his shirt to Stephanie Moore at half-time before returning for the second half in the No15.
Further information will follow via whufc.com as soon as it becomes available.