Vaz Te the hat-trick hero

Ricardo Vaz Te continued his fantastic start to life as a West Ham United player with a hat-trick in Saturday's 6-0 npower Championship thrashing of Brighton and Hove Albion.

The No12 took his personal haul to eight goals in five games and ten in 12 appearances since joining the Hammers from Barnsley in January. He now has 22 in total for the season. Vaz Te's treble against the Seagulls capped West Ham's biggest win since the Tykes were beaten 6-0 at the Boleyn Ground in the Premier League way back on 10 February 1998.

Speaking to West Ham TV, the forward was typically modest about his spectacular individual performance and keener to speak about the importance of a victory that keeps the Hammers in contention for automatic promotion.

"Maybe from the fans' point of view [that was the best performance I have produced], but it was important that we got a win at home," he said. "As long as everyone is happy and we keep getting the three points, that is the main thing. We just need to keep the pressure on the teams above us and keep winning.

"I am more than happy and I have been happy since day one. I always thought it was the right decision to come here, so I have nothing to complain about. Everybody has been really great to me - the fans and the support that I get from them. It was easy for me to settle quickly and that's important."

Vaz Te put his amazing opening ten weeks as West Ham player down to his happiness at the club and in London. However, he is not about to rest on his laurels and take life at the Boleyn Ground for granted.

"I'm very happy - I might not appear to be but I'm very happy! I'm just focused on trying to do the right things all the time. It is one of the key factors as to why I've played well because you have to be happy in the club that you're in and the team that you're playing in.

"It's important to be happy and I am. I am focused, determined and learning and I want to improve. I still feel I can go an extra mile and I feel this is the right club in which to learn and improve."

Vaz Te's goals were all different - the first was a 25-yard rocket that fizzed past Peter Brezovan, the second a far-post header and the third an eye-catching scissor kick that gave the Brighton goalkeeper no chance.

"The first, after the game kicked-off we retained the possession and I managed to find the space between the midfield and the defenders. I passed the first one to Lansbury and he had a shot. I thought if we got another one then that was the space to be in. Luckily Kevin Nolan found me and I just thought 'Why not?' and I took a shot and luckily it went in.

"The second, I knew the cross was going to come in so I just had to position myself right and give myself a chance. Again I was in the right place and the ball came in the right place and I was able to head it in.

"The third, I just thought I would take it early while it was in the air and I managed to hit it right and it went in."

Ricardo Vaz Te

Ricardo Vaz Te watches his scissor kick fly past Peter Brezovan

Saturday's performance and result left the vast majority of the 33,000-plus fans inside the Boleyn Ground with broad smiles on their faces. Vaz Te, for one, was delighted to bring happiness to the Claret and Blue Army.

"This club is mainly about the fans. Sometimes you can't keep them happy because you have to play in a style to win the game and it doesn't matter how you win it.

"On a day like Saturday when you're winning by three or four, you can give them a bit more to cheer about and give them a bit more flair. I just do my thing and try to improve and get better and if they are pleased with that, I am pleased as well.

"I'm flattered when they say 'You're doing well Vaz, you have pace and you have trickery'. I don't really see it that way. I just try to get on with my job and to create as much as possible for other people. I'm happy that they are happy."

Vaz Te had been substituted by the time the game ended and he had to rely on his team-mates to salvage the matchball for him to take home!

"The boys found it for me, luckily, because I had come off. They have been great. They found it for me and they all signed it and I'm very happy about that!"

A focused figure, Vaz Te will not be out celebrating his first hat-trick in West Ham colours - instead he will be back at Chadwell Heath on Sunday morning preparing for Tuesday's trip to relegation-threatened Bristol City.

"This has gone now. It's all about the next game. We have three more games to go and nine points to play for and we have to make sure we are contenders."