Cole completes Hammers return

Mid Devon Star: Joe Cole has signed an 18-month deal with West Ham Joe Cole has signed an 18-month deal with West Ham

Joe Cole's return to boyhood club West Ham on a free transfer from Liverpool has been confirmed as the 31-year-old has signed an 18-month contract at Upton Park to end a miserable spell at Anfield.

Cole emerged from the club's academy to sign professional terms in 1998 and helped them win the FA Youth Cup the following year, becoming a firm fans' favourite before leaving for Chelsea in 2003, when he became one of their first signings following Roman Abramovich's takeover of the club.

Cole told his new club's official website: "It is a great move for me. This is where I learnt my trade and I'm happy to have another chance to be here. I've always loved West Ham and I hope I can give the club a few memorable seasons."

At Chelsea Cole won eight major trophies including three Premier League titles, was named in the Professional Footballers Association team of the year in 2006 and has won 56 full England caps.

But after joining Liverpool as a free agent, he was sent off on his Premier League debut and missed a penalty in his next appearance, a Europa League qualifying match against Trabzonspor. The poor start set the tone for a Reds career hampered by form and fitness problems and he was allowed to spend last season on loan at Lille.

He scored nine goals in 42 appearances for the French club and will have the opportunity to further rebuild his career at the club where he first made his name.

Cole said: "The timing was right for me to come back and I'm happy. I'm back in London and I'm delighted to be here. I want to be here and I want to make an impact. Sam (Allardyce, manager) didn't have to sell me the club for me to come back. I have had 18 months at Liverpool where I haven't played much football and Sam wants to play me."

The warm reception he received from the Upton Park crowd when he returned with Liverpool last month, which he reciprocated by not celebrating his goal in the Reds' 3-2 win, was also a factor in his return.

"It was a big thing in me coming back, the fact that everybody here wants me to do well," Cole added. "The fans have always been great for me, whenever I have been back and also when I've been in the area visiting family.

"I feel like I owe the club a little bit as well because if it wasn't for West Ham I wouldn't be a footballer. This club's great youth-team coaches taught me the trade."

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