West Ham United playmaker Dimitri Payet has told FourFourTwo how Joe Cole helped convince him to join the Upton Park outfit.
Payet swapped the south of France for the east end of London after leaving Marseille last summer, and has made a seamless transition to life in the Premier League. His brace against Blackburn Rovers took his 2015/16 tally to nine goals in 26 games, having missed two months of the campaign through injury.
I was lucky enough to play with Joe Cole at Lille. When he talked about West Ham you could tell he was speaking from the heart. It was obvious how much he loved the club. He would talk about how passionate the supporters are, so it wasn’t a complete step into the unknown when I moved here
And having already achieved iconic status at the Boleyn Ground, Payet is quick to pay tribute to another popular figure around E13 who has also spent some time across the Channel.
Joe Cole, who came through the Hammers’ youth system before going on to make 150 first-team appearances for the club from 1998-2003, played alongside Payet during a loan spell at Lille in 2011/12, and the Englishman only had good things to say about the Upton Park faithful.
Speaking exclusively in the April 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, Payet says:
“I was lucky enough to play with Joe Cole at Lille. When he talked about West Ham you could tell he was speaking from the heart. It was obvious how much he loved the club. He would talk about how passionate the supporters are, so it wasn’t a complete step into the unknown when I moved here.”
More than 7,000 West Ham fans travelled to see their side reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at Blackburn’s Ewood Park stadium, and Payet says it is always a pleasure to play in front of such ‘crazy’ supporters.
“The fans are truly crazy about the team and turn up for every game,” he says. “Their passion is incredible. Home and away, they’re always there to support us. It doesn’t matter whether we play in London or in the north of England.
“The reception when I came on against Liverpool was absolutely incredible. It’s something I will never forget. They show me so much love every day that it’s an absolute pleasure to play for this team, home or away.”
Read the full interview with Payet in the April 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, available in print, on iPad and iPhone. See behind the scenes footage of our photoshoot with Payet, plus interviews with fellow cover stars Dele Alli, Riyad Mahrez and Hector Bellerin by subscribing to FourFourTwo’s YouTube channel, plus get stuck into a library of Performance videos on how to train, think and play like a pro.
Photography: Leon Csernohlavek