Sergei: Why I Signed

New signing, Sergei Rebrov, is surrounded by so many West Ham United supporters he became one himself - so, naturally, he is delighted to have become a Hammers player as well!

"I was supporting them in the Play-Off Final against Crystal Palace and was disappointed when they lost," he says, "and the reason I chose them is that they are a big club heading for the Premiership."

"There are many West Ham fans living close to me in the area I live in Essex.

"Even the man who looks after my alarm system who has come to my house 10 times has told me to come to West Ham.

"Last time I saw him I said 'it is possible I could be joining the Hammers
- and he was so happy!

"Everyone around me is supporting me and I there is a much better atmosphere around the Club than at Tottenham. In that scenario you play better."

Indeed, it was the fact that Alan Pardew made Sergei feel wanted that clinched his decision  to come to Upton Park, and he explains: "I know we are not in the top division at the moment but I think the Premiership is waiting for us.

"During my conversations with Alan he told me he wanted to see me in his team and I said 'if you want to see me in your team, I don't think about money, it is no problem - I will play for West Ham.

"If he needs me I will play my best for the Club because I like West Ham and have always watched out for them. I am very proud to play for this big club and to help them get back to the Premiership.

"Joining West Ham was not a financial decision, it was a football one. When I looked into Alan's eyes when he said he wanted me, I knew there wouldn't be a problem about the conditions."

Sergei is already familiar with many of his new team-mates, and adds: "I have played against a lot of the players in the Premier League when I was at Tottenham and the atmosphere in the West Ham side was always good.

"That is people like Rufus, Tomas Repka, Michael Carrick and Teddy, of course.

"There is a lot of young talent at the Club and a good structure. I like the stadium and the facilities and everything is geared to being in the Premier League."

As for Sergei's time at Tottenham, and not playing week in week out when Glenn Hoddle took over from the man who had paid £11m for him, George Graham, he adds: "I don't want to remember that time but maybe it is difficult to be with a coach who doesn't like to see you. The problem was that I was not playing when Glenn Hoddle came to the club.

"It was not about the money - money is absolutely nothing; I just want to play football - hopefully 36 games in this division!

"I could have been at West Ham two years ago when they were in the Premier League but I  understand it; life is life and sometimes it is light, sometimes black."

The theory, not one shared by Alan Pardew, is that he was too similar in style to Teddy Sheringham, but he counters: "I don't know why Hoddle said I couldn't play with Teddy; it is no problem because he is a very technical player with a lot of experience.

"For me, that is a good player to play alongside, one who understands you - and I said 'why can't I play with Teddy?'

"Every forward is different; it is Hoddle's choice, but I didn't get an explanation."

Eventually, of course, Sergei went to Fenerbahce on loan, and he recalls: "It was okay; we became Champions of Turkey but I was playing in midfield and couldn't play like a forward in even one match.

"There are 'crazy' people over there who are fanatical supporters of their teams and are crying in every game - it is a big experience.

"But I hope West Ham fans won't be crying at the end of this season!

"Before I went to Turkey I spoke to Les Ferdinand and he said the Hammers was a good team with great fans and a superb atmosphere That's why he chose to play for them and had a great time.

"But I always said I wanted to come back to England, because I like the country, and enjoy London."

Sergei, who points out that he is 30, not 31 as has been reported, is asking not to be judged solely on his goal record at West Ham and he explains: "For me it is not so important how many goals I score and if I am asked to play midfield it is no problem for me.

"Any position I can help my team in, I will play."

He also feels he can adapt to the Coca-Cola Championship, and adds: "I haven't seen a lot of First Division games but I will see how the team is playing after a couple of games.

"In England the players work hard for 90 or 95 minutes even when they are losing - and that is why people around the world like the Premier League."

Sergei reckons the Hammers are due a bit of luck, and he adds: "They were unlucky at times last season and we hope this year will be much better.

"I didn't understand how West Ham went down the year before with such a lot of big players in the squad, but there were a lot of injuries and maybe that is the reason.

"When you lose one or two games you lose confidence and that unsettles the team."

Two more questions, Sergei.

Will his arrival at Upton Park lead to the 50,000 or so people of Ukraine to support West Ham United?

"I don't think so!"

And can you persuade Andrei Shevchenko to follow you to East London?

"I will call him but he is busy - he has just got married..."