Friday, July 07, 2006

Yank Hammer !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having completed his £500,000 transfer from Manchester United last month, Jonathan Spector is preparing to meet up with his new team-mates upon their return to pre-season training later this week. We spoke exclusively with the USA international defender about his move to Upton Park and hopes for a successful future in the claret and blue...
Q: First of all, Jonathan, you must be excited about the challenge that now lies ahead for you at Upton Park?
A: Of course, I can't wait to begin playing for the Club. It's a great feeling to have everything completed now. It can be a lengthy process, what with the medical and everything, but I was impressed with the way West Ham handled the whole situation and I'm now very excited about the prospect of playing for the team. It's a great young Club with a real opportunity to go places and there is a lot to look forward to next season - the UEFA Cup and the chance to improve on the success of last year in the Premiership and FA Cup.
Q: Did you watch the FA Cup final back in May?
A: I did watch it, and I really thought that West Ham were going to win. For the most part, they were in control and in the closing stages of the 90 minutes it didn't seem as though Liverpool had it in them to come back. It was so unlucky the way it all ended. It was a great performance, though, and watching it was just one of many factors that persuaded me to sign for West Ham. When I played for Charlton at Upton Park last season, I thought the atmosphere among the fans in the ground was fantastic and of course there is a squad full of top class players here too. I'm looking forward to meeting all the lads when we start pre-season and I'm sure I'll be made to feel welcome. I don't think there will be any problems settling in. I spent a year in London last season with Charlton, and I love the city. I'm from Chicago, so I know what it is like to live in a big city, and I know I'll be happy here.
Q: How impressed were you by what Alan Pardew had to say about the Club?
A: I met Alan face to face to discuss the transfer and that also played a big part in my decision to join. He was very up front with me and honest about everything, and I respected him for that. I think he has done a great job at West Ham in the time that he has been here and, when you look back at last season, he deserves a lot credit for everything the team achieved. I've been fortunate to have worked under two fantastic managers in Sir Alex Ferguson and Alan Curbishley, and I'm sure Alan will help me to progress and improve as a player here at West Ham.
Q: You've been over in England since the age of 17 - was it a big wrench to leave home and head to the other side of the world at that age?
A: Not really, because I had already been living away from home for two years as part of the US soccer federation's residency programme. All the players lived, trained and went to school in Florida, so I was already used to being away and, when the opportunity to move to England and join Manchester United came along, it wasn't a difficult decision to have to make.
Q: How did the move to England actually come about?
A: I was spotted playing in a youth tournament for the US under-17 side in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. A Manchester United scout was there, apparently watching a player that I was marking, and they asked me to come over for a trial. It was a fantastic honour for me and almost like a dream, to be honest. I learned so much in the time I spent at Old Trafford and I will never forget my time there. I felt it was time to move on, though, in order to take my career on to the next level, and West Ham just seemed like the perfect fit for me.
Q: Injury forced you to miss out on a possible trip to the World Cup finals with the USA this summer, that must have been a huge blow?
A: Of course, that was a major disappointment, but I didn't let myself get too down about it. I was never guaranteed to win a place in the squad and sometimes you have to just accept that things aren't meant to be. I prefer to look forwards rather than backwards, though. I'm still only 20, so hopefully I will have the opportunity to play in World Cups with the national team in the future. At the moment, though, my only priority is getting myself fit and making a good start with West Ham. I'll have some work to do when I begin pre-season training, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.