Upson: 'West Ham can fulfil my Euro ambitions'

WEST HAM defender Matty Upson has made no secret of his wish to play at the pinnacle of the European game, WRITES DAVE EVANS. Just last week he said that he was desperate to play in Europe and many pundits construed that as a desire to leave Upton Park in

WEST HAM defender Matty Upson has made no secret of his wish to play at the pinnacle of the European game, WRITES DAVE EVANS.

Just last week he said that he was desperate to play in Europe and many pundits construed that as a desire to leave Upton Park in the summer for bigger and better things.

However, the England centre half, who celebrated his 30th birthday with another exemplary display in West Ham's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, believes that he can fulfil his ambition at Upton Park.

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"I don't see any reason why not," said Upson emphatically. "You can't tell what is going to happen in 18 months/two years time, so you have to roll with it and make the right decisions.

"At the moment, I think the club is going in the right direction and I am very excited about next season."

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Hanging on to seventh place and a earning a spot in the Europa League next season is the imminent goal for Upson and West Ham though, and the defender believes they have every chance of doing just that.

"Without a doubt, I think we can do it," he insisted. "Even though we do still have Liverpool and Chelsea to play, they are both home games and maybe we can get one or two players back fit before the end to strengthen and to give one or two a rest - there is no reason why we can't do well."

It is perhaps strange that achieving something like seventh place has taken on such importance, but the defender revealed that it has certainly been an important topic of discussion.

"We speak about it regularly," revealed Upson. "It is a big goal for the club and it will be interesting next season if we do achieve it to see how things go.

"I think it could mean exciting times at the club next season without a doubt. If we can get some players back fit and bring a couple of new players in, then this club and team can really go places."

Hardly the words of a man desperate for the Upton Park exit door, and manager Gianfranco Zola was also full of praise for the defender.

"I admire people like Matthew Upson," he said. "In life you have to be ambitious, you have to look forward all the time. He has that attitude and I like it.

"That is the kind of ambition that makes the player and the manager better. He has been incredible, one of the players we will rely on a lot in the future.

"We will talk to him and see that he can be happy staying here. I am the first one to believe that, if a player is happy in what he is doing, he performs much more."

If that is true, then Upson must be one of the happiest players in the Premier League.

He certainly seems to have a good working relationship with his manager, and he is keen that Zola commits his long-term future to the club by signing a new deal.

"For me, the longer he can stay at the club the better," said Upson.

"He has done brilliantly since he came in; he has a very good relationship with the players who all respect him.

"He has a great tactical awareness, his people skills are excellent. He gets a lot of respect, probably because of the quality of player he was, but if you are not a good manager that soon wears out.

"He has come in and proved that he has got good managerial skills and that has backed up the fact of how good a player he is, so I think next season could be very interesting for West Ham."

Events off the field may have the final say on the future of Upson, and maybe even Zola himself, but with two men of such great ambition, West Ham fans can feel confident that everything possible is being done with the team to bring success.

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