Fan favourite Slaven Bilic returned to the club to take the manager’s job this summer and so far he’s had  a pretty decent start to life in the hotseat.

The Croat signed for the club as a young defender back in 1996 before moving on to sign for Everton just a year later – but his connection with the club has always remained positive and the fans were delighted to have him back at the club this summer.

The 46-year-old has a reputation of being passionate, which is what fans have always loved about him, and this shines through again during an interview with Betway, as part of their #PrideInYourShirt campaign.

Here’s what he had to say on various different topics, including the first time he wore the famous claret and blue and why he things football shirts mean so much to fans of all ages…

On pulling on the West Ham shirt for the first time…

“My first game for West Ham was Spurs away, so it was a big one of course – and we won that game 1-0.

“It was a very proud moment, I have great memories of putting on the shirt for the first time and of that day.”

On the last season at the Boleyn Ground…

“It’s crazy when you think about how many years and seasons the club have spent here.

“So many generations, so many fans, so many great moments, big players. It’s all part of the club, for such a long time, and now, it’s a privilege for the fans to watch the last season here, as a player to play in the last season here, and for a manager to be connected with this club in its last year at this stadium.

“[The shirt] makes everybody proud and excited for this year.”

On the excitement surrounding the launch of the shirts…

“It was a different time, and I am not that young now! But it was much harder in my time, especially in my country, to get a shirt.

“Apart from the home club, it was much harder to get shirts of the famous clubs from abroad. I remember being so, so happy and it was so special when my dad bought me my first Hadjuk Split shirt.

“It was a dream for every kid in my home town. And it still is now, it’s great to see.

“Football shirts are special. I’ve actually just come from the club shop to buy some [West Ham] shirts for my family back in Croatia.”

On why fans love football shirt so much…

“Well, It’s like ID. It’s your club. If you see someone wearing a West Ham shirt, you know he is that kind of guy, or he’s local, so yes, football shirts are like your ID.

“And now, they are very modern, and they are slim fitting and all of that, so they are part of the fashion as well.”

And finally, on his favourite ever football shirts…

“Maybe I’m a bit biased – but we Croatians have a nice shirt with the red and white checks. I have always loved the Argentina shirts, too.”

“Club kit? I like the black Besiktas one. Strong, simple.”

Slaven Bilic was speaking to the club’s principle sponsors Betway for their #PrideInYourShirt campaign. Visit their West Ham blog here.

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