Sunday, 1 July 2007

Faubert Signs

West Ham United have confirmed the signing of French international midfielder Julien Faubert from Bordeaux for a fee of £6.1million. The 23-year-old put pen to paper on a five-year contract at Upton Park on Sunday morning and becomes Alan Curbishley's second summer signing following the arrival of Scott Parker from Newcastle United last month. Speaking on the official site, Eggert Magnusson stated: "I am delighted to welcome Julien to Upton Park and feel sure that he will become a very successful signing for the Club. He is one of the most highly-rated young players in European football and many clubs were attempting to sign him, so we are very pleased that he has decided to join West Ham United. I have been very impressed by his desire and ambition and I think he will be very popular among our supporters."

Despite rumours that the player had set his heart on a move to Glasgow Rangers, Faubert announced that signing for West Ham has made a lifelong dream come true. "I am very happy," he said. "For me it has always been a dream to play in the Premier League and now that dream is coming true. West Ham United is a great club and I cannot wait to enjoy this experience. Things happened very quickly in the past few days. As soon as I was told that West Ham wanted to sign me, I was very happy and saw it as a wonderful opportunity. I like the fact that West Ham is recognised as a family club and I am looking forward to being a part of this. It was similar at Bordeaux, where I was very happy, and for me that is important. I have already visited the stadium and it gave me a very good feeling. It is hard to describe, but the atmosphere was very special. I have also met some of the people working at the Club and they have made me feel very welcome. The Chairman, Mr Magnusson, is a very passionate man and has a lot of ambition. I believe that he will bring great success to West Ham and it is very exciting to think about being a part of that."

Born in Le Havre on August 1, 1983, of French Guianese parentage (like Florent Malouda, Bernard Lama, Cyrille Regis and Jean-Claude Darcheville) Julien Faubert's career began in 1998 when he was offered a place at the respected AS Cannes Centre of Excellence, famous for nurturing such talents as Zinédine Zidane, Johan Micoud and Patrick Vieira. He went on to make his league debut in the 2002/03 season in the French second division. After 45 League games (four goals), Bordeaux manager Michel Pavon snapped him up in the summer of 2004 and he made his top-flight debut at Marseille on 7 August 2004. A regular in his first two seasons, Flaubert was used mainly as a right winger by Bordeaux coach Ricardo during 2005/06 and he scored five times as the Girondins finished runners-up behind Olympique Lyonnais to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The next season, Flaubert's last at the Stade Chaban Delmas, the youngster went on to make 34 appearances for Bordeaux, scoring another five goals, including two in the Champions League, as the French side narrowly missed out on qualification to the last 16 of the competition, from a group that included Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven and Galatasaray.

At the time of his transfer Faubert had appeared in over 100 Championnat games for Bordeaux and had taken his goal total into double figures. He is also a full France international, springing into the national consciousness on 16 August 2006 when he came from the bench after 70 minutes of France's full international in Bosnia to replace Franck Ribery. With the score line at 1-1, he netted a 90th minute strike to save the blushes of his country on his full international debut. At the same time he also became the first player to wear the famous number 10 shirt following the retirement of Zinedine Zidane. It was a well-merited step up for the 23-year-old, who had performed with distinction in his country's run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Under-21 Championship in Portugal three months earlier.

A strong, pacy and versatile player, when Faubert arrived at FC Girondins de Bordeaux he was primarily a right-back before being converted into a midfielder. It was a successful switch calculated to maximise the natural physical attributes of the player, which include prodigious shooting power and an impressive burst of speed that earned Faubert the nickname TGV (train a grande vitesse). Having proven himself comfortable in either position, and on either flank, the winger was rewarded with a new contract until 2011 but it was not enough to prevent envious glances from some of Europe's richest clubs. Now established, and a recent convert to the religion of Islam, Faubert continued to develop into one of the hottest properties in French football last season before the Hammers finally beat off interest from AS Roma and Rangers to secure his services.

The ambitious player is now aiming to enjoy further success on the international stage, with next summer's European Championship Finals in Austria and Switzerland a clear target. "I hope so, because that is very important to me," he says. "First of all, though, I have to prove myself to the manager Alan Curbishley and win a place in the West Ham team. If I can play in every game then I hope that the national team coach will recognise me and give me more opportunities to represent my country, which is a fantastic honour. This is a big step for me and I am looking forward to my future here in England. It is a very exciting opportunity and I hope I can be part of great success at West Ham United."

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