Matthew Upson can look back over the last 12 months with a strong sense of pride after enjoying a level of fitness and form not previously experienced in his career.
Upson, who will hoping to continue that good run when Aston Villa visit the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, has been a key figure in West Ham United's strong defensive displays of late. The centre-back has also seen this benefit his international credentials as he has cemented himself as an integral part of England coach Fabio Capello's plans - scoring his first England goal and picking up the man of the match award in the Three Lions' 2-1 win in Germany in November.
A sign of the 29-year-old defender's new-found consistency fitness-wise is the fact that he - along with Robert Green - is one of only two Hammers to have started every league game this season.
Upson believes that he is only now reaping the rewards of the previous few years' hard graft: "I am enjoying my football here and I think, especially in the last month or two, everything I have been working on for the last three or four years is coming together," he said. "That includes the physical work and the mental preparation I have been doing. It is all starting to become a real fixture in my game and I feel very comfortable, it is a good feeling."
Gianfranco Zola's arrival as manager also seems to have had an impact on the West Ham United No15 and he concurs, explaining how much he is enjoying working under the Italian.
"The energy he has brought in, he is a very optimistic and positive person and it is nice to have that around you every day. He likes to make it as enjoyable as he can while still doing things business-like and doing the things that you don't always like, but have to do because they are important. Everyone has committed to cause very well."
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