Bellamy lured by Hammers ambition

Craig Bellamy admits that he was persuaded to leave behind Champions League football at Liverpool after seeing the drive and ambition on display at West Ham United.

The Welsh international captain finally completed his £7.5million transfer from Anfield this morning after several days of speculation and, in his first exclusive interview as a Hammers player, expressed his delight at making the move.

"I'm delighted to be here," he says. "It's taken a little bit longer than I would have liked but the main thing is that it is done now and I can look forward to the challenge ahead.

"I knew around two weeks ago that there was an opportunity for me to head away from Liverpool, but I had to make sure that any move was the right one for me and not just an off the cuff reaction.

"I had a lot to weigh up, and in the end I decided that West Ham United was the best move for me, and that's why I'm sitting here now.

"I wanted to make sure that, if I left Liverpool, it would be to a club that is going to be pushing for Europe. I want to play in Europe, it's important to me, and I felt that same drive and ambition here at West Ham.

"Obviously it would be naïve of me to say that we are going to qualify for the Champions League next season, but that's one thing we are really going to be pushing for here in the future.

"The Club is looking to strengthen what is already a very good squad, and West Ham are renowned for their open and attacking football, so everything is perfect for me."

Having helped Liverpool reach the Champions League final last season - with the likes of Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Chelsea dispatched along the way - Craig is certainly no stranger to performing at the very highest level in club football.

However, just as it was for his former Blackburn Rovers team-mate Lucas Neill in January, the potential to be an integral part of something big at Upton Park is a far more attractive proposition than some cynics might claim.

"I had a great experience at Liverpool and I believe West Ham will benefit this year, because I know I am a better player for it," he says.

"I supported Liverpool as a boy and would have had the chance to play Champions League football again next season, but I needed to look beyond that, in the same way that Lucas Neill did when he came here.

"I understood Lucas's position. If he'd joined Liverpool, he would have been a squad player, like I was. Some people don't understand it, but the opportunity to be a senior figure at an ambitious club like West Ham is very attractive.

"It was important for me to start playing regular football. I could sit at Liverpool as a squad player all day long, picking up my money, playing every now and then, but I'd be cheating myself and my personality.

"I want to play every week, to test myself and be in the firing line a little bit. I've signed a five-year contract here, and I will be here for the long term. I've moved around a bit in recent years, and now I want to settle.

"I'm 28 later this week and hopefully approaching the prime years of my career. I believe West Ham are going to see the best of me, I'm focusing on giving my all for the Club and I'm really looking to the challenge ahead."