Right back in top form

WHEN IT comes to West Ham, the words French and flop seem to be forever intertwined, writes DAVE EVANS. There was the notable exception of 2002 Hammer of the Year Sebastien Schemmel of course, but think about Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bellion, Kaba Diawara

WHEN IT comes to West Ham, the words French and flop seem to be forever intertwined, writes DAVE EVANS.

There was the notable exception of 2002 Hammer of the Year Sebastien Schemmel of course, but think about Jeremie Aliadiere, David Bellion, Kaba Diawara, Edouard Cisse, David Terrier and Sebastien Carole to name but a few.

Julien Faubert was another who seemed destined to leave Upton Park with his reputation severely tarnished by his time with the Hammers.

The speedy winger arrived in the summer of 2007 in a �6.1million move from Bordeaux, having just broken into the French national squad.


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But injury on the club's pre-season tour of Austria forced him to miss much of the season and when he finally did return, he showed none of the form that had made him such a hit in France.

Last season was no different as he struggled at both right wing and right back, but then in January came a truly mind-boggling loan move to Real Madrid, who were prepared to pay �6million for him if he had impressed.

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He didn't. And he was back at Upton Park for pre-season, though seemingly on his way to Germany in a cut-price move.

That never happened either, and with Lucas Neill failing to agree a new deal with the Hammers, it was Faubert who was thrust back into the starting line-up at right back, and he hasn't looked back since.

Faubert's last chance to prove himself is going well and against Wolves on Saturday, he showed that he may have plenty to offer Gianfranco Zola's side.

"I think it was a strong performance from the whole side, but I felt good on the pitch," he said. "I can run and I can defend, so I was happy for my own game and I was happy to win for the team."

So where has this sudden improvement emanated from? Certainly last season, especially in his time in Madrid, the Frenchman looked unfit and overweight, but he seems to have sorted that problem out thanks to a rigid fitness programme in Italy over the summer.

"I was careful about my food and what I ate. I did some big work and worked hard," he said.

"I knew I had too much weight and I had to lose some. I have done some big work and come back strong and I felt good on the pitch."

He looked good too, and if this is the beginning of a renaissance for Faubert's fortunes then it will be great news for West Ham.

The player himself hopes it could be great news also for his chances of returning to the French squad in the run-up to next summer's World Cup in South Africa.

"I am here and I am happy to be playing a lot of games and playing well," he said. "I hope to be back in the national team, so I need to do this.

"I went to Real Madrid, which was a different experience, but now I am back in London and I am ready to work for West Ham."

It seems that the biggest difference for the Frenchman is that now he realises what his problems were and has at last made a real effort to rectify them.

If he can stick with it, and West Ham stick with him, then he could make the right back slot his own.

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