Slaven Bilic admits he missed West Ham while away from the club

The Upton Park boss says he followed the Hammers wherever he was after leaving 18 years ago.

Speaking to the club’s official website, West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic says he couldn’t turn down the offer to return because he missed the club while he was away.

Bilic spent a year as a player at Upton Park, during which he became a firm fan favourite - and that reputation still stands today, despite both of his spells in east London having been relatively short.

He returned as manager this summer after 18 years away, in which time he has managed his national side in Croatia and Turkish giants Besiktas, and says that he followed the club's fortunes wherever he was in the world.

“I always followed West Ham wherever I was,” he told

“Once you play for West Ham, or once you are connected with West Ham, it stays with you for life. I missed it during my time away from this club because it is a special club, a cult club, but what really makes West Ham special is the fans.”

And if the Hammers can maintain the standards they have set so far for the remainder of the 2015/16 campaign, Bilic will see his decision to return to the Boleyn Ground this summer further justified.

Bilic’s side have looked impressive under his stewardship, with three away victories at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City sure to live long in the memory regardless of how the rest of the season pans out.

Those successes have helped to cement his standing in the eyes and hearts of the club’s supporters, and it is clear to see what being back in familiar surroundings means to one of the game’s more passionate coaches.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch