Last updated : 01 January 2006 By Ed

The Sunday Times:

"I loved my time at Manchester United. Just looking around the place you always got a feeling for how big it is, not just in Britain but around the world. But the thing you love most as a footballer is playing; that’s why Ronaldinho wears that smile, and that’s what I’m enjoying about being here."

In four years at Manchester United, Carroll played 72 games. He won a Premiership title and an FA Cup winners’ medal. He also learnt that in order to experience the ultimate joy in the beautiful game, victory plays a part. So it was vital that Alan Pardew was able to offer him something tangible when they met to discuss his move to Upton Park.

Carroll liked many things about the manager and the club. "Alan came out to speak to me in Portugal while I was on holiday and that was a touching gesture," he admitted. "You need your manager to believe in you." But he was also sold on certain West Ham ideals, which Pardew articulated to him, such as a commitment to playing good football and the tradition of developing fine players. The 28-year-old from Enniskillen could identify with much of what Pardew was saying and promising and, six months on, there is plenty for them both to smile about.

"There are players here such as Teddy who is the ideal role model, a player the young players can watch, see how he conducts himself in training, on the pitch and off the field, which is what I did at Manchester United, looking up to Fabien Barthez and Roy Keane.

"Players and fans alike are looking forward to this game," said Carroll. "We’ve already drawn at home against Arsenal but this is the fixture in so many respects. Chelsea have the kind of mentality that was there at Manchester United, that utter belief in themselves. They walk onto a pitch believing they will win and it takes a lot to shake that level of confidence. For Cole and Lampard it will mean a lot to return here, but it will mean a lot to us, too.

"The thing is not to be daunted by it. Enjoy it because this is what it’s all about, like stepping out at Old Trafford in front of 70,000 people. You can’t allow yourself to be intimidated, otherwise you’re in the wrong business. This is why you play the game, to play the best players, to compete in games such as this. I spent four years at Wigan when they were in the old Second Division and Dave Whelan, the chairman, wouldn’t accept they had gone as far as they could go. They opened the new stadium when I went there in 1997 and continued to strengthen the team and look where it’s got them.

"The attitude at United, the desire to win and not settle for anything less, is something that’s come from the hunger in Sir Alex Ferguson and it’s a hunger that’s still there, even if they’re going through a period of rebuilding. That’s what I’ll take from my time there, that desire to succeed, and it’s something I see here at West Ham, throughout the team. "