Antonio happy to be home

Michail Antonio is looking forward to performing in front of the same West Ham United fans he sat alongside as a boy.

The winger paid visits to the Boleyn Ground as a youngster, joining his football-mad friends in making the trip from his south west London home to the east London home of the Hammers.

More than a decade later, Antonio has returned to E13, but this time he will be performing on the pitch rather than sitting in the stands – and the former Nottingham Forest star cannot wait.

“I’m buzzing and finally happy to be back in London at a massive club,” the new No30 told West Ham TV. “I’ve always been around London and I came to a couple of games here when I was younger, so I’m happy to be finally here and at a club I watched when I was younger.

“I’ve picked West Ham because I’m home. It’s London and I’m comfortable here and I think that’s where I’ll play my best football. I have seen the way the manager plays and I reckon I can flourish here.

“Growing up, I wanted to be around the best and have competition and being at West Ham there is lots of good competition. The last result, winning 3-0 at Liverpool, showed that I am coming to a great team that’s established in the Premier League and hopefully I can put my mark down here at the club.”

Antonio may not have played in the Barclays Premier League before, but the winger has become a regular highlight reel on Football League highlights shows during his time with Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.

Having started his career with non-league Tooting & Mitcham United, the 25-year-old knows the value of hard work to go alongside his undoubted ability.

“If I have the opportunity to go at my full-back I will go. I am the sort of player who picks the ball up and runs and tries to get crosses in or a shot at goal. I got 15 goals and 13 assists last season, and I’ve got four goals in four starts this season, so hopefully I can keep that going and the goals coming.

“I can play either side or in the hole, or sometimes as the big man, it depends on where the manager chooses to play me. I’m a person who, as long as I’ve got the shirt, I’ll play.

“I put my career path down to hard work, really. I didn’t have the technique so I’ve worked on it every day. I was in non-league and went to school, so I didn’t really get the opportunity to learn the basics.

“I’ve always been raw and have been doing raw stuff. I’ve always had the pace and the power and now my technique is starting to work, so hopefully I can show it and everyone can see what I can do.”

Antonio became one of four players signed on Deadline Day, joining Alex Song, Nikica Jelavic and Victor Moses in coming through the John Lyall Gates, and he says it is an exciting time to be part of West Ham United.

“We have done very well in the market and hopefully adding me to the table will help us push on and see where we can get.

“I’m not scared by this challenge. I will come in and put the hard work in and put my heart on my sleeve and wherever it gets me, it gets me.

“I’m not the sort of person to let things affect me. I’ll let my own ability take me where I can go and if it doesn’t stop me, hopefully I can flourish.”