Adrian hails warm Maltese welcome



Adrian was bowled over by the warm welcome as West Ham United arrived in a sweltering Malta on Wednesday afternoon.

The Hammers touched down at the island’s International Airport at just after midday, with temperatures in the Mediterranean touching 35C (95F).

Hundreds of supporters were on hand to greet the players and staff came through Arrivals, and the goalkeeper, manager Slaven Bilic and his squad were delighted to pose for photographs and sign autographs.

The No13, who was typically in high demand, told West Ham TV he cannot wait to play against Birkirkara FC in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League second qualifying round second leg tie at the country’s Ta’ Qali National Stadium.

“It’s exciting for us because for most of us it is the first time we have played in Malta, so it is a new country for us and we are excited about playing against Birkirkara here,” he exclaimed. “We want to get a good result and pass to the next round.”

Hailing from Seville in the far south of Spain, Adrian is one of the few among the West Ham squad to be used to such high temperatures, and he had words of advice for his teammates on how to deal with the hot weather.

The Hammers will train at Ta’ Qali this evening to acclimatise to the abnormal conditions, but the goalkeeper said there are other steps that the players can take to keep cool.

“For me it’s not a problem because I am adapted to this hot climate but I would tell them to just drink a lot of water and to take a cold shower before the game!” he advised.

With just a one-goal lead to protect going into Thursday’s clash with the Maltese FA Trophy winners, West Ham will need to keep their cool when they take to the pitch.

“I have confidence in my teammates but we need to be careful because Birkirkara are playing at home this time and we need to keep a clean sheet and score an early goal – that would be very important for us,” Adrian confirmed.

“They have quality players and they have been playing in Europe for a long time, so we need to be careful of them and to keep our mentality and strength in our team. I am confident we will win and go through.”

Finally, Adrian had words of thanks for the Claret and Blue Army who turned out in their droves to welcome the Hammers to Malta – and will be out in force again at Ta’ Qali on matchday.

“It’s an amazing and important thing for us,” he smiled. “The Hammers are around the world and to see them here in Malta is fantastic. We are looking forward to having Hammers from Malta, England and other countries there to support us in the game.”
*Wednesday's training session at Ta' Qali National Stadium will be OPEN to supporters, who should enter the stadium through the West B Stand entrance. The session will start at 8.45pm CET.