Faubert's fine year

A year ago Julien Faubert went into the close-season determined to turn around his fortunes at West Ham United.

The Frenchman signed off the 2008/09 season with a disappointing but enlightening six-month loan spell at Real Madrid where he played just twice. At a crossroads in his career, Faubert resolved to return to the Boleyn Ground in better shape and with a better attitude towards making it at West Ham United.

An achilles injury and related aches and pains had blighted his first 18 months in London but, with a newfound resolve, Faubert packed himself off to a fitness camp in Italy and began to work on a personal programme. By the time pre-season came around in July, Faubert was leaner, meaner and a whole lot keener.

"Personally, it's been a good season for me because I just came back as a football player," Faubert said of his form that even had some talking about a potential return to the France squad. "That's what I wanted, so I'm happy."

"I feel like a West Ham player more this season because I played a lot of games in a hard season. Last season I didn't play too much, but this time I've played 25-plus games, so I definitely feel like a West Ham player.

His happiness was reflected in his displays at right-back - his preferred position - as he established himself as Lucas Neill's replacement. He played 36 league and cup games, the most of any outfield player, and opened his scoring account in claret and blue in the 3-0 home win against Hull City on 20 February.

Not only did the France international mark his 50th appearance for the club with his first goal, but he also provided an inch-perfect pass for Carlton Cole to score the Hammers' second goal in what proved to be an absolutely vital success.

The 26-year-old dedicated the award to the memory of his mother Elisabeth, who passed away in January.

Faubert said: "I have to admit I'm a little bit surprised but I feel very happy because it's been a hard year for me because I lost my Mum and have had too many things to think about.

"I'm very proud of this award and want to say 'Thank you' to the fans because they have supported me all the time - when I lost my Mum and had some difficult moments. I just want to say 'Thank you' and I hope this is not the last award I win.

"Last season was a hard season for me because I didn't play too much and I was just coming back from my achilles injury. It was a very hard season for me, so play a lot of games, to stay in the Premier League and to have the support of all the fans is very important for me.

"The award is true because it was my best game of the season. I gave a great assist for Coley for a good finish and I scored as well, so it was the best game for me for a long time.

"Sometimes you don't know what the fans are thinking and when you win an award you know they recognise your work. They see you on the pitch and are behind you all the time, so it's good for me and for my Mum, because this is for her as well.

"I just want to say 'Thank you' to the fans, because it's been a hard season for them as well. I want to say 'Sorry' and we'll do better next season."