SAMIR NASRI will make his first Premier League start since May 2016 against former side Arsenal today – but he has extra motivation than just getting one over his ex-club.
The Frenchman, 31, had a son during his 18-month drugs ban and is desperate to do him proud, even if he is too young to appreciate it just yet.
Getty Images3 Samir Nasri's return to football has added importance after the birth of his son
PA3 The Frenchman made his return after an 18-month drugs ban in the win over Birmingham last week
Nasri joined on a free transfer at the beginning of the month and was on the bench for the Hammers' 2-2 draw with Brighton last week.
But he started in the FA Cup win over Birmingham and has earned himself a spot in the starting XI at the London Stadium.
Speaking in West Ham's matchday programme, he said: "During that year away, I was just watching on the television. I wasn't even able to train but a lot of things changed in my life, and for the best as well. I had a son and I've grown a lot too.
"I know how blessed I am. I'm so lucky to have a second chance to do what I love. Not everyone gets a second chance but I have one and I know I will give everything I have.
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Reuters3 He spent three years at the Emirates before joining Manchester City and winning two Premier League titles
"I want to prove myself. I want to look in the mirror and be able to say 'You came back and did everything in the right way'. It's for my son as well. He's too young right now but when he sees me play, it has to be competitively."
There were certainly eyebrows raised when he was brought in to train with the Hammers last year but has clearly done enough to impress the club and manager Manuel Pellegrini, who he worked under at Manchester City.
West Ham have given him a six-month contract until the end of the season but they will no doubt be willing to extend that if he delivers in the second half of the season.
Nasri added: "I could have gone somewhere exotic but I wanted to be back in a competitive league and prove to myself I can still be doing it.
Samir Nasri starts against Arsenal! pic.twitter.com/JfuFDG3vui
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) January 12, 2019