Hammers complete signing of Carlton Cole

West Ham United is delighted to announce the signing of England under-21 striker Carlton Cole from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee.

The 22-year-old has agreed a four-year deal at Upton Park and becomes Alan Pardew's third summer signing following the arrivals of Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Spector last month.

A product of the youth academy system at Stamford Bridge, Carlton made his first team debut for our London rivals as an 18-year-old substitute against Everton in April 2002, and then scored on his first start just weeks later against Middlesbrough.

The following season, he enjoyed a brief loan spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers but still managed to make 16 league and cup appearances for Chelsea, before heading out on loan again at the start of the 2003-04 campaign, to Charlton Athletic on a season-long deal.

After five goals in 22 appearances for Alan Curbishley's men, Carlton returned to Stamford Bridge hoping for an opportunity under new coach Jose Mourinho but, following the £24million signing of Didier Drogba that summer, he was forced to head for pastures new again in search of regular first team football.

This time, it was Aston Villa who snapped up the promising young striker on a 12-month loan spell, during which time Mourinho saw enough to declare that Cole would be staying put at Stamford Bridge for the 2005-06 campaign, as Chelsea attempted to retain their Premiership title and add European Champions League glory to the pot.

However, with Drogba and Hernan Crespo scoring regularly, Carlton again found his chances restricted last season. He made nine substitute appearances in the Premiership and scored on his one and only start - a 2-1 FA Cup third round win over Huddersfield Town.

Throughout his time at Stamford Bridge, the Surrey-born striker has remained a regular on the international scene with England, appearing for the under-19 and under-20 sides, and scoring four goals in 15 appearances for the under-21 team.

Tipped by many to make the step-up to full international level in the future, he joins up with under-21 colleagues Anton Ferdinand and Nigel Reo-Coker to become the latest highly-rated young English player to agree a long-term deal with West Ham United.

Exclusive reaction from Alan Pardew and Carlton Cole to follow shortly…