Samir Nasri was thrilled to be back on a football pitch after making his debut for West Ham.
The French midfielder was a surprise starter against Birmingham in the FA Cup, his first match since November 2017 following a doping ban.
But at times it looked as though the former Arsenal and Manchester City playmaker had never been away as he bossed the midfield for just under an hour before being substituted.
Marko Arnautovic headed West Ham into the lead before he was substituted early on, and his replacement Andy Carroll sealed a 2-0 win in stoppage time, but it was the performance of Nasri which stood out.
“I’m happy to get my first minutes in the West Ham shirt, but most important was the team performance and winning 2-0, keeping a clean sheet,” he told whufc.com.
“I felt good, honestly I thought I would struggle a little more with the rhythm as my last game was 13 months ago.
“I’m just relieved that everything is now behind me and happy about those first 58 minutes. It was good and I’m just looking forward to the next game.”
A good start in Claret & Blue for this man 😍 pic.twitter.com/jyRJxfeugV— West Ham United (@WestHam) January 5, 2019
Nasri, 31, will now be in contention to face his former club Arsenal at the London Stadium next Saturday.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “I was very happy in the way he played.
“He is a player that gives you time with the ball, he has such good technique that the ball is always around him.
“He now will be considered in different games. Next is Arsenal – we don’t know if he will start or be on the bench but now he demonstrated that he is back and he will continue to improve his performances in every game he plays.”
Almost 55,000 fans were in attendance, an impressive turn-out for a midday cup tie, and a noisy away following of 5,000 made their presence felt.
“I’m proud of the performance,” said Blues manager Garry Monk. “We wanted to give the fans something to shout about and I hope they are proud with the effort the lads put in.”