Ask West Ham’s new hotshot winger Sofiane Feghouli what inspired him to join the Hammers, and he replies with one word: “Passion!”
The 26-year-old Desert Fox captained Algeria in the 2014 World Cup, which gave him a taste for success that will not go away.
“We came close to beating Germany in the last 16, after producing the performance of our lives in front of a worldwide audience,” Feghouli told Al Arabiya English.
“West Ham players throughout the decades have always shown similar passion, and that’s a legacy I want to be a part of.”
West Ham's Sofiane Feghouli scores their third goal. (Reuters)
Feghouli says he is “particularly proud” of joining the club that produced England World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst, who beat West Germany 4-2 in 1966.
“That was exactly 50 years ago, but the tradition is still burning strong,” said Feghouli. “West Ham is all about aiming for the stars, and many of its players have got there.
“The current squad can do the same. It’s full of talent, and we have a brilliant manager in Slaven Bilic.”
Feghouli scored in his debut for the Hammers in the 3-0 Europa League qualifying win over NK Domzale this month.
It was West Ham’s first ever game at their new ground, London’s Olympic Stadium, and he said he felt “completely at home.”
“I’m of course very proud to see Muslim players like Riyad doing so well, but they’re not here because they’re Muslims,” said Feghouli. “They’re here because they’re great players.”
He is especially delighted to be wearing the No. 7 shirt with the Hammers, as superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Eric Cantona have helped make it legendary.
After successful spells at clubs including Valencia in Spain and Grenoble in France, Feghouli has signed a three-year contract at West Ham but hopes to stay in England longer.
“I’ve always been hugely impressed by Britain and everything it has to offer,” he said. “I used to watch all the London derbies when I was growing up, and loved the determination and courage shown by teams like West Ham. They never gave up.”
However, Feghouli says there is one shirt he would never be able to live up to: Bobby Moore’s No. 6 jersey. It was ‘retired’ by West Ham in 2008 in honor of their most famous international captain.
Moore “summed up West Ham,” said Feghouli. “He remains the ultimate inspiration for all of us. His passion still drives us on to glory.”