Sport Soccer

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Ogbonna buys into Bilic's vision

West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna made his Premier League debut in the victory over Arsenal last weekend
West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna made his Premier League debut in the victory over Arsenal last weekend

Angelo Ogbonna has revealed Slaven Bilic sold him on his vision for West Ham and used the lure of regular football to convince him to move to Upton Park.

The Italy international picked up two Serie A titles during his time with Juventus and was an unused substitute in May's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

Since then he has become the second player of the summer - after Dimitri Payet - to move to West Ham for an eight-figure fee but scored an unfortunate own goal on his debut against Astra Giurgiu in the Europa League qualifiers.

Ogbonna returned to the heart of Bilic's defence in Sunday's 2-0 victory over London rivals Arsenal and will retain his place alongside Winston Reid for the home game against Leicester.

And the 27-year-old said it was talks with Bilic, as well as the promise of first-team football, that saw him leave the relative comfort of Italy's top club to join a side which finished 12th in the Premier League last season.

"I talked with the manager and he explained to me what he wants to do with this club," Ogbonna told Press Association Sport.

"The manager sold me the story and I feel it is better for my career to come to West Ham now. I know I will play now and I don't think about last year. I have to think about this year.

"I am very happy but it (the Arsenal win) was only the first match so we are looking forward and not just thinking about what we did in the first match. We knew it was a difficult game but there are a lot of difficult games so we have to concentrate on the next game and take things step by step."

Both Ogbonna and Payet impressed on their Premier League debuts as Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate scored the goals to secure a memorable win at the Emirates Stadium.

But the standout performance of the afternoon came from 16-year-old Reece Oxford, who was deployed in a holding midfield role by Bilic.

Oxford is already the youngest player to ever represent the Hammers and his performance at Arsenal belied his age - with Ogbonna admitting he can learn off the teenager as well as give Oxford advise.

"It's not just me giving him my experience but also our experience together," he added.

"He helps me and I help him. We are only one group and we follow what our coach teaches us and maybe step by step, everything will be good for us.

"I am very grateful. For me it's a pleasure to play with someone as young as him. He's a very quiet boy and I'm very proud of him because he is here and he understands everybody and he wants to learn everything. He wants to learn all the tactics and methods. I'm very happy for him."

Press Association

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