Pedro's part of the West Ham family

Eight months on from his arrival Pedro Obiang says he is getting the hang of the English language and English football
Pedro Obiang has never been afraid to take bold steps to further his career.

At 16, the Spanish midfielder left his home in the historic town of Alcalá de Henares near Madrid to pursue his footballing dream in Italy.

In the port city of Genoa, the teenager made his Serie A debut for Sampdoria at the age of 18, before going on to make nearly 150 first-team appearances for i Blucerchiati.

In seven seasons at the iconic Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Obiang became part of the Sampdoria ‘family’, before last summer choosing to further his career overseas once again by joining West Ham United.

The No14 arrived in east London with minimal English, but showing again his inclination to immerse himself in a new culture, and with the help of personal assistant Silvia Matesic, Obiang has quickly picked up the language.

On the pitch, the former Atletico Madrid schoolboy has waited patiently for opportunities to impress, and on Tuesday that patience was rewarded with an outstanding performance in the Emirates FA Cup fourth-round replay win over Liverpool at the Boleyn Ground.

“It’s going very well because we are picking up a lot of positive results,” Obiang told “I am really very happy for the team and for myself, especially given these recent results. When I play, I am always happy!

“At the beginning I had some problem with the language because, while I can speak Spanish and Italian, I didn’t speak any English at all, but now I am improving so it is better!

“The style of football in England is completely different to Italian football, so everything was completely new but I am getting used to it and every day I am getting better. I now understand how English football works!

“There is a lot of intensity here, so when you come from another country it is difficult at the beginning, but now I am getting the hang of it and understanding more and more.”
There is a lot of intensity here, so when you come from another country it is difficult at the beginning, but now I am getting the hang of it and understanding more and more
On Tuesday, that understanding reached its highest point so far as the central midfielder produced a tireless display that culminated in a dramatic winning goal by his fellow former Serie A star Angelo Ogbonna.

“We felt great emotion, of course,” he explained. “For me, the FA Cup presents me with an opportunity for me to show who I am as a player, so it’s been very important.

“I am happy for Angelo. When you share everything with your teammates, you share the emotions and you are always happy when these situations happen.

“He comes from Italy, like I did, and I know how he feels coming into this new experience in England and I know how he felt when he scored that goal, because we share every emotion.”

While previously foreign players would be given months to settle into their surroundings and make their mark in a new country, nowadays overseas imports are expected to hit the ground running immediately.

Despite this added pressure to perform, the calm, collected and self-assured Obiang has quietly and effectively grown into his life and career on these shores.

“Everything has changed a lot for me in terms of football but not in terms of the pressure that comes with it,” he continued. “Everybody is expecting something very important from us this season, but that is nothing new for me, because we had expectations on us too in Sampdoria. It is normal that people expect a lot from me.

“I am not the only one though – every player in the squad is important. I know all of my teammates very well and all of us have worked hard to improve ourselves and reach our goal as a group. For me, the group is the most important thing.”
While some of his fellow summer 2015 arrivals have made more headlines – Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and Ogbonna among them – Obiang has had his own important role to play as Slaven Bilic’s side have performed to a consistently high level this season.

When asked if he is happy to take a slightly less-profile role than those mentioned, the midfielder’s selfless attitude again shines through.

“We are all together and have to work together to enable the Club to reach its goals,” he explained. “When I was at Sampdoria we were very close and I felt part of a family, and now I have signed a long-term contract here and am having the same feelings here that I felt in Sampdoria.

“Obviously I started in Italy when I was really young, as I was just 16 and still really a kid when I left Spain. Now, it is slightly different because I have grown up and am feeling being part of a different kind of family here.

“I need a little more time for the West Ham fans to know who Pedro Obiang is, which is normal.”