Valon Behrami already knows a lot about West Ham United and that includes the club's loyal and devoted fans.
The Switzerland international, who has just put pen to paper on a five-year contract, got to see a little of what the club is about when he played for Lazio against West Ham United in last season's pre-season tour of Austria. "At Lazio, the supporters are very passionate and let you know what they think, good and bad, he said. "But I remember there being so many supporters from West Ham at the match last year who came to see the team. They seemed very passionate too.
"I am very much looking forward to playing in front of them at the stadium this season as I am told the atmosphere is very good," Behrami added. Derbies against Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur will hold no surprises for the 23-year-old as he has experienced the excitement of capital clashes with Lazio against their fierce Serie A rivals Roma.
Scoring a last-gasp goal to secure a 3-2 win in last March's derby helped preserve his name in Lazio folklore and he is firmly aware of what it will mean to help West Ham United also come out on top in such contests. "I know of the importance to win every match, but derbies are very special as I found out when I scored the winning goal against Roma.
"I just got the most amazing reaction and will never forget that," he recalled. "I know that there many matches like this in the Premier League and I cannot wait to get involved in these matches for West Ham." Behrami also knows about his new team-mates, having played against Matthew Upson when England met Switzerland at Wembley last February and before that against Julien Faubert in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier against France.
He added: "I know that there are very good players here, like Craig Bellamy and Dean Ashton and many more who I am looking forward to playing alongside. While most of the players are away on the tour, I will be at the training ground working hard so I can be in the best condition to start work with everyone when they return."
Behrami was also given some inside information about West Ham United from a former club favourite, Paolo Di Canio. The pair met at Lazio and the 6'1 player said the Italian maestro talked fondly of his time here and of English football in general. "I talked to Paolo many times. He talked a lot about West Ham but also about football in this country and in particular the Premier League. So that is why it is a dream come true for me and I am very happy to be here."
He was born in Kosovo, but moved to Stabio, Switzerland with his family when he was a child. After being capped at youth level, Behrami progressed to the senior team and now has 15 caps. He started all three games of his country's matches at Euro 2008 this summer. "I enjoyed playing in the European Championships, it was good for me. I had a little rest afterwards but since the championships finished, all I have wanted to do is sort out my move here and look to getting myself fit and ready to play for West Ham."
Now that the formalities have been completed, Behrami is looking ahead to achieving much at the Boleyn Ground. "I look at the Premier League and see that beautiful football is played here. I want to now experience that with West Ham," he said. "Last year the team had an unlucky season with injuries, but still played well.
"West Ham have brilliant prospects for the future and that was one of the very important things for me in making the decision to come here and play. I am an ambitious person who has goals and I want to play for a team who wants to win things and I can see that ambition is here at the club."