West Ham United are pleased to announce the signing of Austria international defender Emanuel Pogatetz on loan until the end of the 2012/13 season with an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season.

Pogatetz, who joins the Hammers from German Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg, has been capped more than 50 times and is able to play at either centre-back or left-back.

The powerful 30-year-old also has extensive experience of the English Premier League, having spent five seasons with Middlesbrough between 2005 and 2010. After two-and-a-half seasons in Germany with Hannover 96 and Wolfsburg, the Graz-born player is delighted to be returning to this country.

"I feel very good to be here and I am very excited about playing for West Ham," he told whufc.com. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for the club and help it get good results. I will be doing my best to play well and hope I can play a part in the club achieving the targets for this season.

"First of all when I heard that West Ham wanted me, I thought it was a club I wanted to play for because they are a very traditional club, with passionate supporters. Secondly, it was good for to have the opportunity to come back and play in England. This is the football I want to play and I have missed playing here, I want to show what I am still capable of after five years playing in Middlesbrough."

Born in Austria's second-largest city in January 1983, Pogatetz won the Austrian Cup with FC Karnten in his first season as a professional in 2000/01, earning a move to German club and then-UEFA Champions League regulars Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Pogatetz spent four seasons with Leverkusen, during which time he was loaned to Swiss side FC Aarau, his hometown club Grazer AK and Russian Premier League outfit Spartak Moscow, where he played alongside future West Ham midfielder Radoslav Kovac and partnered future Manchester United star Nemanja Vidic in defence.

The versatile defender moved to the Premier League in June 2005, when one-time England manager Steve McClaren spent £1.8m to take him from Leverkusen to Middlesbrough.

Pogatetz made 158 appearances in five seasons at the Riverside Stadium, helping Middlesbrough to reach the UEFA Cup final in his first season on Teesside, only to miss the 4-0 defeat by Sevilla after fracturing his eye socket in a quarter-final victory over FC Basel.

During the 2007/08 season, Pogatetz was appointed Middlesbrough captain. Playing alongside future Hammers Gary O'Neil and Mido and ex-West Ham striker Jeremie Aliadiere, the Austrian helped Boro to maintain their place in the Premier League.

Middlesbrough were relegated in 2009, but Pogatetz stayed loyal to the club as they started life in the Championship. However, a recurrence of his fractured cheekbone restricted his first-team appearances.

The player was snapped up by Hannover in June 2010, helping the club to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals in 2011/12 and totalling 72 appearances over two seasons. Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg liked what they saw and moved for Pogatetz last summer.

The 6'3 tall defender has also been a regular for Austria at senior level since making his debut in a friendly with neighbours Germany in Leverkusen in May 2002.

Since then, Pogatetz has become an influential figure for his national side, starting all three group-stage games when Austria hosted the UEFA European Championship finals in 2008.

The defender has netted twice in his 52 international appearances - in a UEFA European Championship qualifier against Netherlands in September 2003 and in a friendly draw in Italy in August 2008.

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