West Ham United are delighted to announce the signing of Romania captain Razvan Rat on a free transfer.

The experienced left-back, who has 88 caps to his name, will join the Hammers on a one-year deal, with the Club having an option to extend to two or three years, on 1 July following the expiry of his contract with Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

Rat, 31, has spent the past decade with Shakhtar, winning seven Ukrainian Premier League titles, four Ukrainian Cups and lifting the UEFA Cup in 2009. He has made 248 appearances for the club, including 57 in the UEFA Champions League.

The Piatra-Olt-born defender played eight times in the UEFA Champions League in 2012/13, helping Shakhtar to defeat Chelsea on their way to the last-16. Domestically, he helped the club to win the Ukrainian Premier League title for the fourth season in succession and reach the Ukrainian Cup final in his last appearance.

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce is delighted to have secured his signature. He said: "I'm hugely happy that we've got a player of his experience and his character.

"He's been playing Champions League football this year and at the highest level for many years. Shakhtar had offered him a very good contract, but his ambition was to come and try his abilities and skills in England.

"When you hear somebody speak so positively about that, then you know they've got the mental character that's needed to do well in this division.

"We certainly know he's got the ability and he's at an age where he's still capable of producing at 31.

"He speaks perfect English, which he taught himself, and that shows the discipline and the character of the man. Discipline, character and ability are the three big things in the Premier League, and with a little bit of adjusting, we'll see him early on in the season giving hopefully his best performances for West Ham."

The 5'9 full-back started his career with hometown club Rapid Piatra-Olt before playing schoolboy and youth-team football for Universitatea Craiova, Constructorul Craiova, Sporting Pitesti and Cetatea Targu Neamt.

In 1998, the 17-year-old Rat joined Rapid Bucharest, quickly establishing himself at the Romanian Premier League club under manager Mircea Lucescu and making his European debut in a UEFA Cup qualifying round defeat at Armenian club Mika in August 2000.

After a six-month loan spell with smaller Romanian club FCM Bacau during the 2000/01 season, Rat returned to Bucharest, winning the Romanian Cup in 2002 and the Romanian Premier League title the following year.

Shakhtar moved to sign the defender in summer 2003 and he has enjoyed huge success since moving to Ukraine, lifting a total of 15 trophies - the vast majority of them under the guidance of former mentor and compatriot Lucescu, who took charge at the club in 2004.

At international level, Rat was capped at U21 level before making his senior debut against France in Paris in February 2002. Since then, he has been a virtual ever-present for Romania, earning 88 caps to date. His solitary international goal came in a 5-1 win over Germany in April 2004.

In 2008, he started all three group-stage matches at the UEFA European Championship finals in Switzerland before being appointed national-team captain in September 2011.

Rat becomes the third Romanian to represent West Ham after 1994 FIFA World Cup stars Florin Raducioiu and Ilie Dumitrescu.

Season tickets