Slaven Bilic is in no doubt he has joined a club going places after being named the new manager of West Ham on a three-year deal.
The former Croatia boss, 46, was yesterday confirmed as successor to Sam Allardyce, whose contract was not renewed.
Bilic, who also had spells in charge of Lokomotiv Moscow and more recently Besiktas, is the man now tasked with guiding the club into the Olympic Stadium for the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
The former West Ham defender, who spent 18 months at the club from January 1996 before joining Everton, is in no doubt of the potential he is taking on. “I am really glad to be back with West Ham United. It is in the Premier League, which is among the best in the world,” Bilic said in a statement on the club’s official website. “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 a big club – there is something special about them – they are a cult club.
“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.”
Bilic added: “My first priority when choosing a club is to look at its ambitions. When I spoke to the chairmen and (vice chair) 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.”
Allardyce’s departure after four years as boss was announced minutes after the season-concluding loss at Newcastle.
The Hammers made a promising start to the campaign, but finished 12th following a dip in results.
However, the east London club did qualify for the Europa League via the Fair Play standings, so will start that competition on 2 July.
That gives Bilic little time to get his squad together following a shortened summer break.
Co-chairman David Gold had indicated they were determined to “bring in an established manager who has been there and done it’’.
It is believed Bilic was not the only candidate to have been under consideration with the likes of Rafael Benitez, Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo Bielsa, Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk and Unai Emery all said to have been on the Hammers’ radar.
With the potential of an extended European campaign ahead, West Ham are looking to strengthen the squad. A deal for Sampdoria midfielder Pedro Obiang is expected to be one of the first completed.