Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton reflected on his upbringing and playing days in east London, ahead of this evening’s Premier League fixture against one of his former clubs, West Ham United.
The Albion boss spent two seasons playing for the Hammers in the 1990s after an illustrious spell at Tottenham Hotspur, and Hughton commented on his connection with tonight’s opponents.
He said, “My upbringing was different. I was a football fanatic growing up, but always playing. I never really had an allegiance to any team, but I'm very much a local West Ham lad.
“Although my dad is now very much a football fan and of my career, I didn't have a family background of football, so I think I went to West Ham once when a family friend took me.
“I had a very long career at Tottenham, and then went to a West Ham side, where we ended up getting promotion from the old second division to the first division.
“Billy Bonds was the manager there, not only a great manager, but a great individual and I remember him allowing me to do a couple of [coaching] sessions there.
“It was a stage of my career when I was very much thinking about coaching, so it was a very enjoyable period.”
The Seagulls sit one place ahead of West Ham in the Premier League table, and Hughton assessed the level of pressure on Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who also played for the club.
“I've bumped into him, but not managed against him from what I can remember. He was very popular there as a player and the impression I get is that he's popular as a manager as well.
“I think they’re a club that have grown in stature. They’ve got a new, bigger stadium, more spending power than perhaps they would have had in the past, and with that comes pressure.
“But you never think of what a win for us might do to them. You always just think of your own best interests, and it's a game that we want to win, whoever we’re playing.”
Albion are without an away victory in the league this season, but have picked up eight points from their opening eight fixtures, and Hughton gave his thoughts on his team’s steady start.
“Overall, I'm satisfied. I wouldn't go further than that. I'm disappointed we didn't get the win on Sunday and probably the Bournemouth one, because we played at a good enough level to have at least got a draw, so there have been some disappointments.
"The players have coped with the levels quite well. In the eight games so far there isn't anybody who has given us a good beating or that we've found it really difficult against.
“But it's another game away from home, and we won't underestimate it. It’s still, irrespective of their form, a very tough game for us.”