West Ham United captain and birthday boy Kevin Nolan is looking forward to the Club's exciting pre-season schedule.
The Hammers have confirmed a week-long Football United Tour to New Zealand in July, when they will take on Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC, and an appearance at the Schalke 04 Cup in Germany in early August, where Malaga CF and the host club will tackle Sam Allardyce's squad. West Ham will also take on Italian giants Sampdoria at home in the Marathonbet Cup on Saturday 9 August.
Both trips will be well supported by West Ham fans from home and abroad - a prospect that already has skipper Nolan excited.
MARATHONBET CUP I FOOTBALL UNITED TOUR I SCHALKE 04 CUP
"Looking ahead to the summer, the Club has announced pre-season trips to New Zealand and Germany, which all the lads are naturally looking forward to," confirmed the skipper, who celebrates his 32nd birthday today.
West Ham travel to New Zealand on 17 July before taking on A-League sides Wellington in Auckland on 23 July and Sydney in Wellington on 26 July.
Travelling to the other side of the world is an experience usually reserved for West Ham defender and All Whites captain Winston Reid, but Nolan and his squad-mates will be joining the defender on the 11,400-mile trip this summer.
"The New Zealand journey is going to be a long one, as I've seen from the look of Reidy when he returns from international duty, but we will be down there for a decent period of time and will play two games and hopefully meet a lot of our fans," Nolan continued.
"Reidy has said a lot of good things about New Zealand and I am personally really looking forward to it because I've never been there on a pre-season trip. It will be a fantastic occasion for the Club and a great experience for everyone involved.
"First and foremost, we will be working as hard as we can to make sure we are mentally and physically fit for the start of next season in August."
The trip to New Zealand will give West Ham and football fans in general the opportunity to see a top-flight English club play in the country for the first time since Everton visited in 1986.
It is also hoped that the tour will enhance the Club's profile and increase the fanbase in a part of the world where the sport is growing quickly.
"Football is such a global sport now and the Barclays Premier League is a global brand, so we know our roles and responsibilities as players to help that to grow," said Nolan. "It's surprised me how big it has got, but we play in the best league in the world in the best sport in the world, so perhaps I shouldn't be so shocked after all!"
West Ham return home following their meeting with Sydney FC and will have a few days to re-acclimatise before heading to Gelsenkirchen for the four-team Schalke 04 Cup over the weekend of 2/3 August.
There, Nolan says the Hammers will gain much from taking on top-class opposition prior to the start of the 2014/15 campaign.
"We're also going to the Schalke 04 Cup where we will play against two top European teams and that will give us the chance to get some good run outs under our belts before the season starts. It's also testament to how far the Club has come on in recent years in terms of the opposition who want to play us."
To complete the pre-season schedule, Nolan and company will welcome Italian Serie A side UC Sampdoria to the Boleyn Ground for the traditional curtain-raiser. The Marathonbet Cup will kick-off at 3pm on Saturday 9 August, with tickets on sale now!
West Ham United pre-season fixtures
Sat 12 July v Stevenage (The Lamex Stadium, 3pm)
Wed 16 July v Ipswich Town (Portman Road, 7.45pm)
Wed 23 July v Wellington Phoenix (Football United Tour, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, 7.45pm local time)
Sat 26 July v Sydney FC (Football United Tour, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand, 2pm local time)
Sat 2 Aug v Schalke 04 (Schalke 04 Cup, Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 5pm local time)
Sun 3 Aug v Malaga CF (Schalke 04 Cup, Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 3pm local time)
Sat 9 Aug v UC Sampdoria (Marathonbet Cup, Boleyn Ground, 3pm)