Man of the Moment 3: Lionel Scaloni

Having arrived at Upton Park on loan at the end of January, Lionel Scaloni has enjoyed an impressive introduction to English football. His first three games in a claret and blue shirt have coincided with three clean sheets for the Hammers defence and, as he revealed in an exclusive chat with (again with the help of our Italian-speaking Club Doctor Ges Steinbergs, pictured above with Lionel), the Argentinian international is also settling in well to life off the field in London...

Q: What have you enjoyed most about life at West Ham United so far Lionel?
A: I have enjoyed everything about being here, but the best thing for me has to be the supporters - they are unlike anything I have ever seen before. In Spain, very few supporters travel to away games, and to see so many West Ham fans up at Bolton for our FA Cup match was a different experience for me. It was wonderful to walk over to the crowd at the end of the game and applaud them for their support - it enabled me to feel that I have made a good decision in signing for West Ham.

Q: Since you arrived, the defence has kept a clean sheet in each of the three matches you have played - that must have given you a sense of satisfaction about your introduction to English football?
A: Yes, it has been a very good beginning for me, but the fact that we have not conceded goals is not to do with me! It is down to the rest of the team, and the other defenders who have been playing well over a long period of time. I have enjoyed playing with the likes of Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon and Paul Konchesky. They are all very good defenders who are also excellent technical players also. There is no kicking the ball long - I like the fact that the defenders try to play good football and start attacks from the back.

Q: Do you feel you have now got used to the pace of the English game?
A: Yes, it was not so much the speed of the game or the pace of the players that surprised me, because we have players in Spain who are also very quick. The thing that I have had to get used to is the rhythm of the game, which is constantly backwards and forwards, never slowing down or giving you the chance to think clearly about your tactics. In Spain, the game is played stop-start, and it doesn't flow as much. Because of this, I feel it is important to be in possession of the ball in the English game and that is what I have been working hard on in training here.

Q: What about life off the field, Lionel - have you settled in well to a new culture and surroundings?
A: Yes, I am very happy with my life here. People ask me a lot if I have trouble with the cold weather in England and I have to tell them that it is not a problem, because the weather in Coruna at this time of year is not much warmer. In northern Spain, it can be very cold in the winter, so I am used to playing in these conditions. The only problem for me since I arrived in England is the language - it can be very frustrating when you are not able to communicate fully with your team-mates and coaches.

Q: Rumour has it that some of the players are learning Spanish in order to converse with you!
A: Yes, but I have to say that my English is probably better than their Spanish! The players have been fantastic, they have made me feel very welcome and at home, as have the staff and the people around the Club. To me, they are already very good companions, and it has made it much easier for me to settle.

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Q: Do you have family over with you in England at the moment?
A: Just my girlfriend Patricia, who arrived here from Spain a few days ago. Patricia was born in Venezuela, but actually lives in Madrid. She is a teacher and speaks very good English, so hopefully she will be able to help my English improve now!
My brother Mauro came over with me when I first arrived here, but he plays for the reserve team at Deportivo La Coruna, so he had to go back soon afterwards. My father was also over here for a short while, but he lives with my mother and the rest of the family back in Argentina.

Q: You must be delighted to have been called up by the Argentinian national squad for the friendly against Croatia?
A: Yes, it is very important for me to have recognition from the national team, and I think that playing here in the Premiership has helped me in that sense. The Premiership matches are shown live on ESPN television in Argentina, and with Hernan Crespo also playing here in London, there is much interest among the people.

Q: Presumably you are desperate to play for your country in the World Cup finals this summer?
A: Yes, of course it would be my dream. It will be difficult, because there are only 23 places in the World Cup squad, and maybe 40 players who are hoping to be named, so some will be very disappointed.

Q: And will the Argentina fans demand success in the tournament?
A: Oh yes! Argentina has one of the most passionate bunch of supporters and they will be expecting us to win the World Cup - nothing less. We have a very tough group to get through at the start and, if we progress from there, the confidence will be high enough to believe that the team can go all the way.

Q: And finally, looking ahead, do you have any plans for when your loan spell expires at the end of the campaign?
A: I am not sure what will happen at the end of the season - much will depend on Deportiva La Coruna. I have played for them for many years now and they are still part of my heart, so I don't really want to play for another Spanish club. Maybe they will want me to go back for next season, but I really don't know at the moment. If there is a possibility of staying at West Ham, then it is something I would certainly consider as I already know that this is a very good club to play for.