The Big Interview - Emanuel Pogatetz

He may have been playing in Germany for the past two-and-a-half years, but many English football fans will instantly recall Emanuel Pogatetz.

The tall, strong Austria international defender enjoyed five seasons with Middlesbrough between 2005 and 2010, helping Boro to reach the UEFA Cup final and earning a reputation for being a whole-hearted player willing to put his body on the line for the cause.

West Ham United's new No18, who has joined the club on loan from Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg, is planning to endear himself to Hammers fans with more of the same following his arrival in east London. The 31-year-old could make his debut in the Barclays Premier League fixture at Fulham on Wednesday evening and he has told he cannot wait to start his second spell on these shores.

What is it like to come back to England with West Ham?

EP: "I am really happy to be back in England, because the English football is enjoyable and is the football I have enjoyed the most and suits me the most."

What it is about English football you like the most?

EP: "It is a fast game and that suits the way I like to play. I just try to play my best and think I can play my best football here. I also enjoyed my time in the Bundesliga, of course. I think I adapted quite quickly to that but the game I want to play again is the English Premier League. I am really happy to be back here."

What did Sam Allardyce and your new team-mates say when you met them? You already know Gary O'Neil from your time with him at Middlesbrough, of course!

EP: "Yes, I met the manager and we had a chat. He is a very experienced manager who I am looking forward to working with and working under. I had a chat with Gary. I saw him at lunch and it was good to see him again after three years. Kevin Nolan also made a point of coming up to me as captain, to say hello and welcome - it was nice of him to do that, he spoke a few words to me."

You are versatile and able to play at either centre-back or left-back, but what do you see as your best position?

EP: "Definitely at the back, a centre0half. That is why Sam Allardyce has brought me in. I can also play as a left-back if I am needed there, but think I am best as a centre-half. I think that is the main position he [Sam] has brought me in for]."

Emanuel Pogatetz

Emanuel Pogatetz in action for Middlesbrough against the Hammers in 2006

Are you fit to play immediately?

EP: "I feel I am ready to go. I am looking to play games and train with the lads. I think I am OK but it is up to the gaffer when he wants to play me. But I am ready to train and then I can see if the manager thinks I am ready. I am fit and will try to make a good impression in the training session and then hopefully I can be ready for when the manager and team needs me."

Do you have any good memories of playing against West Ham, here, during the time you have played in England?

EP: "Yes, it is quite a few years ago but what I can remember is the supporters are very passionate here and I also remember coming in on the coach, seeing the area here, it was already packed with supporters making their way to the game. So straight away, when you see all of that, you think it is going to be a tough match here not only against the team but with the fans, who will be passionate. That is what I can remember. I am looking forward to playing in front of such an atmosphere, but for the West Ham fans this time. In front of such passionate supporters who give you the extra push, drive and boost you need to play your best."

You have been out of the country for a while, but have you watched the Premier League and seen what has been going on?

EP: "Yes, of course. I have been watching it in between playing. I have stayed in contact with a few of the lads I knew at Middlesbrough. I know what is going on and know what to expect in this league. I am looking forward to and am ready for that."