West Ham United appoint former defender Slaven Bilic as new manager

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West Ham United have appointed Croatian Slaven Bilic as their new manager.

Bilic, 46, returns to Upton Park after spending 18 months with the Hammers as a player in 1996 and 1997.

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The former manager of the Croatian national team left Turkish side Besiktas in the summer, after spending two years in Istanbul, and has signed a three-year deal to take charge of Premier League outfit West Ham.

Bilic had the following to say as he becomes just the second Croatian manager in Premier League history:

“I’m really glad to be back with West Ham United,” Bilic said. “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. It’s not about the size – West Ham is 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.”

An uncompromising defender in his playing days, Bilic has taken that passionate and forthright approach into his managerial career and burst onto the scenes after being named Croatia’s boss at the of 37 and then becoming the youngest coach at the 2008 European Championships when he led them to the quarterfinals. Bilic’s Croatia failed to reach the 2010 World Cup and were knocked out at the group stage of EURO 2012.

His coaching resume also includes spells in charge of Hajduk Split, Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas where he enjoyed mixed fortunes but leading West Ham into a new era in Europa League qualifying this summer and then their move into the Olympic Stadium in 2016 will be his biggest challenge yet.

Bilic’s appointment has been met with excitement by West Ham’s fans as they now have a man in charge who knows exactly what it means to wear the Claret and Blue.

Under Sam Allardyce the Hammers finished in 12th spot in the Premier League last season but Allardyce stepped down as manager in May after a disappointing second half of the campaign.

Bilic will be tasked with bringing an exciting brand of soccer back to east London as the Hammers aim to push back into the top 10 of the PL before their move to the new 60,000 seater stadium at the Olympic Stadium.