Ilunga grateful for fan support

Herita Ilunga has spoken about his pride at being a West Ham United player in direct contrast to recent misleading media reports.

The left-back has been a revelation since signing on a season-long loan from Toulouse and, contrary to what has been claimed in some quarters after an interview he gave was taken out of context, is focused only on a long-term stay. "I love being at West Ham," Ilunga said. "I want to be a success here and help us to challenge in the Premier League. I am very impressed with the ambition here and want to stay for a long time."

The deadline day recruit has not missed a league game since he arrived and is especially grateful for the backing he has received. He said: "Things have gone very well for me, better than I had hoped. The fans are great. They always show their support during the matches, which is a big help for us. I have felt an instant connection with them. This is a big club and we have a great tradition and history, I am very proud to be here."

The manager Gianfranco Zola has also been swift to support his defender, who was voted the fans player of the month back in October and has been a model of consistency in training and matches. "I know Ilunga very well," the manager said. "He's totally committed to what he is doing here and people took his answers in the wrong way. He is happy to be here and is looking to sign a contract."