James Collins joins George McCartney in returning Hammers this summer.

West Ham have announced the signing of former Hammers defender James Collins on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

Collins left Upton Park three years ago for Aston Villa and was part of the side that performed the Great Escape in 2007.

Collins told “It’s great to be back. Obviously having been here before and coming back and seeing some of the old faces is great.

“As soon as I knew the interest was there from West Ham I couldn’t wait to get down and sign. I had a great affinity with the club and the fans when I was here the first time and I enjoyed my time here so much last time that it wasn’t hard decision to make, to be honest.”

The 28-year-old Welsh international, capped 39 times, first joined the Hammers from Cardiff in 2005 and in his first season helped the club finish ninth in the Premier League and then played a big part in reaching the FA Cup final the same year.

“I think everyone knew that I didn’t really want to leave when I did because I was enjoying my time here so much,” the Welshman told West Ham TV.

“I’ve got so many good memories – getting into the FA Cup final in my first season and finishing so high [ninth] in the league and then the way we escaped relegation that year was one of my fondest memories in football.

“I just cannot wait to get back and show the fans what a better player I am now.”

Collins made 66 appearances, scoring two goals, in his first spell in Claret & Blue and he’ll be challenging James Tomkins and Winston Reid for a place in the starting line up next season.