Da Costa settling in

Manuel Da Costa cannot wait to experience the passion of English football after completing his move to West Ham United.

The French-born former Portugal Under-21 defender is eager to make his mark after arriving on a three-year contract from Italian Serie A club ACF Fiorentina. He is set to have the No22 shirt and could be in the squad against Wigan Athletic on Saturday week as the Football Association have confirmed they have requested international transfer clearance.

Despite being aged just 23, Da Costa has already amassed a wealth of experience, appearing in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and winning the Dutch Eredivisie title with PSV Eindhoven, as well as earning more than 20 U21 caps for his country.

The powerfully-built defender played against both Liverpool and Arsenal during PSV's run to the last-eight of Europe's premier cup competition in 2006/07, and Da Costa is looking forward to playing in packed Barclays Premier League stadiums again on a more regular basis.

"I remember when playing against Liverpool, firstly, that they were a very good team. However, the thing that stuck out was that the atmosphere was great. I liked the English passion for football - the crowd and the supporters are very, very important and I like that. I relish the pressure created by the passion from the supporters when they want us to do well. I thrive on that and like to have that kind of atmosphere.

"Playing against Liverpool was one of the highlights of my career because playing in England is always a great experience."

Da Costa, who also appeared for Portugal at the 2007 UEFA European U21 Championship finals, revealed that West Ham's desire to bring him to London, as well as a chance meeting with Hammers right-back Julien Faubert, had been the major factors behind his move.

"I spoke with Gianluca Nani and Gianfranco Zola and they both told me they wanted me to come over and to give me a chance to have a fresh start. They told me they had confidence in my ability, which made me feel good, so I was very happy to join West Ham.

"I also had the chance to meet with Julien Faubert when we were both in France recovering from injury and we spoke a lot about West Ham and playing in England. Julien is a good guy and we got to know each other quite well. I am looking forward to living and playing in London myself now."

Describing himself as 'a strong defender who is also good in the air', Da Costa has was also called into the senior Portugal squad for the 2008 UEFA European Championship qualifiers against Azerbaijan, Poland, Kazakhstan, Belgium and Serbia, but has yet to make his full debut.

Portugal are battling to qualify for next summer's FIFA World Cup in South Africa, but the Hammers' new signing insisted he is focused on his club, rather than country, for now.

"For me the most important thing is not the national team, although it obviously remains the ambition of every player to represent their country at the World Cup. I have not played a lot recently, so the first thing I want to do is to establish myself within the squad and within the team.

"I want to convince Gianfranco and his coaching staff that I am a player that they can rely on, then I hope that everything else will take care of itself."