Franco fired up

With West Ham United's famous No10 shirt on his back and a FIFA World Cup just ten short months away, Guillermo Franco is understandably excited about the coming season.

A naturalised Mexico international, the 32-year-old was born in the northern Argentinean city of Corrientes.

After starting his career with Primera Division side San Lorenzo in 1996, Franco's goalscoring exploits caught the attention of Mexican club CF Monterrey, who he joined in 2002.

The powerful forward became a legend at the Estadio Tecnologico, netting 63 goals in 119 league games, helping Monterrey to the Torneo Clausura - Closing Tournament - title in 2003 and finishing top-scorer in the Torneo Apertura - Opening Tournament - the following year.

Like many South American-born players, Franco decided to try his luck in Europe, joining the growing Argentine contingent at CF Villarreal in Spain's La Liga just a few months before the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he appeared in all three of Mexico's group stage matches.

At El Madrigal, Franco continued to impress in the No99 shirt, appearing regularly as Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League before being edged out by Arsenal in April 2006.

Earlier this year, the forward re-established himself in the Mexico side under Javier Aguirre.

Franco's goals helped to fire Mexico to CONCACAF Gold Cup glory in July 2009, beating the United States in the final, before scoring twice more as 'El Tri' reignited their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

Now, with his adopted country looking odds-on to reach South Africa, Franco is looking to open a new chapter on his career at the Boleyn Ground.

"The main motivation was to play in the Premier League. I love English football and I love the Premier League. I had the possibility of joining Estudiantes and two Spanish clubs, but it was the Premier League that drew me here. I can fulfil my desire with West Ham and I am very happy to be here."

"I feel very well. I believe that I have been very professional throughout my career and have worked very hard. Thank God, I have never had a major injury and because of this, I feel I am ready for the challenge at the age of 32. I feel very strong, very fit and very ready for this big challenge."

"I have many challenges ahead of me this year. That is why I am looking forward to this season. My adrenaline is already rushing.

"I know I am not very well known in England, so I am looking forward to showing the supporters what I can do. I also have the World Cup next summer, so I am looking forward to playing well for West Ham and also for Mexico."

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Franco played alongside the likes of former Arsenal stars Robert Pires and Pascal Cygan and ex-Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi at Villarreal, and said all three had spoken positively about the Barclays Premier League.

"I didn't speak to anyone about joining West Ham, but we did discuss English football at Villarreal. Players like Pires, Cygan and Rossi always talked about it positively and I am pleased to be here."

The striker, whose wife and three children have joined him in London, has already experienced a matchday at the Boleyn Ground, having appeared for Villarreal in the inaugural Bobby Moore Cup fixture in August 2008.

"I remember the game well. Even though it was a friendly game, the atmosphere was great. I could see that there was a lot of passion among the supporters. They are very demanding, but in the right way, because they are very committed and ask the players to engage with them on the pitch. I like that. I can see that English football and, especially West Ham, has a lot of passion. I am looking forward to playing in front of them, because if you deliver, they respond in the right way."

Franco, who met his new team-mates for the first time on Thursday, said he had seen many of them in action before on television. However, when asked which of them had impressed him, the forward was keeping his cards close to his chest.

"I have seen some West Ham matches on the television, and some of their players in international matches, but it would be wrong of me to name any of them, because I am looking forward to playing with the whole team. I want to get to know them personally in training and on the pitch, so I will let you know who impresses me in the next interview!"