West Ham United have completed the signing of Diego Tristan on a permanent contract with the Spanish striker becoming the first new recruit under Gianfranco Zola.
The 32-year-old, capped 15 times by his country, has been without a club since leaving Serie A side Livorno at the end of last season and is determined to hit the heights of his spells at Mallorca and Deportivo La Coruna. "I am really happy to be at West Ham. They are a big club and London is a great city," he said. "I want to show the fans that I can score goals and help the team to go up the league. I am excited to be here."
Tristan put pen to paper with Scott Duxbury on Tuesday evening after the CEO had flown to Rome to finalise negotiations with his representatives, with several leading clubs having also expressed their interest. The club's new No25 had particular words of praise for the manager, who has been running the rule over Tristan for the past fortnight at Chadwell Heath.
"The manager has spent lots of time working with me," he said. "He has helped me a lot and I want to say thanks to him by scoring lots of goals and doing well for the club. I am very grateful to the manager for giving me the opportunity to play here.
"I have been really impressed from the moment I arrived at the training ground. The coaching staff and the players have all helped me to settle in. I had a lot of offers to go to other countries and play for a lot of money but I feel that I still have lots to offer and I want to show West Ham fans that I can still play at the highest level. That is why I am here."
The 6'1 forward could make his debut away to Hull City this Sunday. He is well aware of English football, having made a particular impression in the Champions League back in October 2001 when he scored twice to help Depor to a memorable 3-2 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford. A month later he followed that with a goal in a 2-0 home win against Arsenal.
He said: "I have always been impressed by English football whenever I have played here. The stadiums and the fans are great and it was always a dream of mine to come here and play. Now my dream is going to become reality. I am at a great club and I want to see if I can help West Ham get into Europe and play at that level."
Tristan, who played at the 2002 World Cup and has scored four goals for his country, expects the English game to better suit his style after his year in Italy. He will be hoping to match the heights of previous years in the Primera Division when he scored 78 goals in 177 league games overall for Deportivo, having hit 18 from 35 games in the 1999/00 campaign for Mallorca.
"English football is very similar to Spanish in that it is very quick and technical. There is more of an emphasis on attacking football so I will have more chances to score goals. In Italy, it was more defensive, and not easy for forwards to get scoring opportunities. West Ham play the right way and that should help me to do well."
West Ham United CEO Scott Duxbury said: "I am delighted that we have been able to secure the services of Diego Tristan, who is an experienced striker and has already had a positive impact. Diego will provide extra competition in attack and the manager has been impressed with his attitude and ability in training.
"The focus for our squad is about quality not quantity and we are sure that Diego is a quality addition. This signing indicates that we are thinking only of the future progress of West Ham United."