Hammers appoint Bilic

West Ham United are delighted to announce the appointment of Slaven Bilic as the Club’s new manager
West Ham United are delighted to announce the appointment of Slaven Bilic as the Club’s new manager.

The 46-year-old will become the 15th full-time manager in the Hammers’ 120-year history, returning to the Club he played for 54 times, on a three-year contract.

Bilic will arrive at the Boleyn Ground after successful spells in charge of the Croatia national team and Turkish side Besiktas, subject to a work permit being issued. He becomes the second Croatian to manage in the Barclays Premier League, and has an outstanding career win percentage of 55.16 per cent.

A law graduate and multilinguist who takes a meticulous approach to management, the new boss will arrive in London later this month following a family holiday, but has already begun preparations for West Ham’s maiden UEFA Europa League campaign.

“I’m really glad to be back with West Ham United,” Bilic said. “It’s in the Premier League, which is among the best in the world. It’s a big challenge and you are competing with the best and what better club to do it with than West Ham.

“I remember West Ham as a special club. I love these kinds of special clubs. My last club, Besiktas, was that kind of club. It’s not about the size – West Ham is big Club – there is something special about them - they are a cult clubs.

“It is a great place to play and I felt like I was at home. It is a big privilege and a big responsibility to now be manager and I hope that I will prove it to the Board, players and fans.

“My first priority when choosing a club is to look at its ambitions. When I spoke to the Chairmen and Karren Brady, they made clear that it is not only the fantastic new Stadium we are moving into, but they showed their determination and ambition to make what is a big club even bigger.

“I saw their determination and passion that they want to do that. That was the number one reason. I could feel that they really wanted me so it was an easy choice.

“I would say to the West Ham fans that I will give my best and together we will achieve great things.”
I would say to the West Ham fans that I will give my best and together we will achieve great things
As a player, Bilic was an outstanding centre-back during a 14-year career that saw him represent Croatian giants Hajduk Split, German side Karlsruher SC, West Ham and Everton.

A promising prospect as a youngster, he joined Hadjuk at the age of nine, being loaned to lower-league sides Primorac and Sibenik before making his senior debut for his hometown club at the age of 20 in 1988. He later won the Yugoslav Cup in 1991, the inaugural Croatian League title the following year and Croatian Cup in 1993.

A big-money move to Germany resulted and Bilic was named Karlsruher captain, leading the Eurofighters to the UEFA Cup semi-finals in his first season with the club.

In January 1996, Bilic moved to east London and quickly established himself in the entertaining West Ham team of the time, playing alongside the likes of John Hartson, Frank Lampard, Eyal Berkovic and close friend Steve Potts.

After helping the Hammers to finish eighth in the Premier League in 1997/98, he joined Everton before finishing his career with first club Hajduk in 2001.

At international level, the defender was part of Croatia’s golden generation of the 1990s, helping The Blazers to reach the UEFA Euro 1996 quarter-finals before finishing third at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, playing alongside the likes of fellow former Hammers Igor Stimac and Davor Suker.

Bilic returned to the international stage in 2006, embarking on a headline-making seven-year spell as manager of Croatia. During his tenure, the Balkan nation denied England a place at Euro 2008 with a famous 3-2 win at Wembley, before going on to top their group with victories over Germany, Poland and host nation Austria.

Only a penalty shootout defeat by Turkey denied Croatia a place in the Euro 2008 semi-finals and Bilic rallied his fellow countrymen to come within a whisker of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals.

Two years later, Bilic ended his tenure as Croatia manager by leading his national side to Euro 2012, finishing with an outstanding record of 42 wins and just eight defeats from 65 matches in charge.

On his return to club management, Bilic spent a year with Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow before taking up the challenge of managing Besiktas in the competitive and passionate Turkish Super Lig.

There, he took the Istanbul-based club to consecutive third-place finishes, winning 48 of his 92 games in charge and leading them to the UEFA Champions League Play-Off round and the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, beating Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool along the way.

whufc.com will bring you further exclusive reaction from Slaven over the coming days.

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