Tony Cottee column: Maiga could be a star, but West Ham won’t see the best of him until next year

“The last thing you want is to be shoved in a hotel room and told to get on with it”

It was great to see Modibo Maiga get his first Premier League goal in the 4-1 win against Southampton – and he took it so well.

When we signed the Mali striker I think it’s fair to say no-one knew too much about him. He doesn’t speak much English and it does take a while to settle in.

He needs to grab his chances as and when he can, because I think he will become a very good player for West Ham.

Your first season abroad is about finding out about the league and the culture.

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How quickly you settle depends on the individual.

Even a player as good as Thierry Henry came to be in the Premiership, took nine games to score his first goal for Arsenal and there are many other examples too of foreign players who have made slow starts.

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Getting used to the weather was the most difficult thing for me when I spent a season playing for Selangor in Malaysia.

If you play in Europe at least the weather is seasonal, over there it was just so hot all the time.

But the world has changed a lot in the last 15 years. When Harry Redknapp was at West Ham a lot of foreign players arrived at once and back then there was no-one to help you out, the club didn’t have a liaison officer to look after you.

You signed and then were expected to do what you had to do.

The last thing you want when you arrive in a foreign country is to be shoved in a hotel room and told to get on with it. Some people can’t cope with that.

Nowadays, not just West Ham, but every club will have liaison officers to help you out. It makes things far easier.

Read more from Tony Cottee exclusively in the East London Advertiser. Out every Thursday.

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