Former West Ham defender Matthew Upson is relishing his latest challenge after the 32-year-old added Stoke City to the list of clubs he’s represented with distinction during his long career.
The experienced centre back has played for a host of Barclays Premier League and npower Championship clubs, including Arsenal, Birmingham City and West Ham, and the prospect of joining Stoke's Europa League campaign was a key factor behind his latest move.
“I'm really excited about starting this new challenge here," he said. "I was delighted to come up here and sign once the manager expressed an interest. I've been fortunate to play at the highest level, but I've not been involved much in European competitions and I now have the chance to experience that.”
Upson, who signs on a free transfer from the relegated Hammers, has played on 21 occasions for England, and was determined to stay in top-flight football as he pushes into his early-30s.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis said: "Matthew was anxious to stay in the Premier League following his departure from West Ham. He sees this move as the perfect opportunity for him to further his ambitions in the game at both club and international levels in the future.”
But the move is mutually beneficial for Stoke, who have been developing since reaching the top flight in 2008.
"This is another fantastic deal for this football club when you consider the quality and experience of the lad and the fact that he is a free transfer," the Potters boss added.
Upson was won over by the Stoke manager's ambition and the mentality that has developed at the club.
He said: “He told me about the culture and what he expects of the players. The discipline and the organisation he in-stills in everyone, I take a lot of things from that and I'm excited about the challenge of being involved in that environment.
“I will relish the challenge of fighting for a spot. It creates a really positive atmosphere in the squad and that brings the best out in players which can only be good for the club. My aim is to play as many games as possible, but there are some established defenders here, so I'm going to have to play well and push hard to get in the team.”
Upson joins fellow England international Jonathan Woodgate, as Pulis explains: "We now have strength in depth in our defence with both Matthew and Jonathan on board and we've managed to achieve that without a significant outlay on transfer fees, which is quite remarkable in today's market of vastly inflated prices.”
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