Club News

Popov relishing ‘family affair’

Defender eager to prove himself after dream move

GORAN Popov is relishing the chance to become part of the Albion ‘family’ and fulfil his Barclays Premier League dream.

The Dynamo Kiev left-back last night completed a season-long loan move, with a view to a permanent deal, swapping the opportunity to compete in the Champions League for the chance to tackle England’s top flight for the first time.

And he is eager to prove himself and earn an extended stay at The Hawthorns, three summers on from the Baggies’ initial interest in him when he was at Dutch outfit SC Heerenveen.

“I know that West Bromwich wanted me two or three years ago when I was playing in Holland,” said Macedonia international Popov.

“When I heard they wanted me a second time I said ‘this is a good chance for me to show what I can do’.

“I’m so happy to sign for West Bromwich.

“I also spoke with the head coach yesterday and the people here say the team is like a family.

“This is the most important thing for me because I like this.

“I hope after this one year I will sign for two or three more.

“Dynamo usually finishes first or second in Ukraine and as I have a three-year contract there I know - if I go back - I’ll be able to play Champions League football.

“But I will only have one chance to come to England and I want to use it because I always dreamed of it.”

The 27-year-old shed some light on just how frantic the 24 hours leading up to his deadline-day switch to England were, with Albion securing his work permit only yesterday afternoon.

He added: “I didn’t sleep at all the night before because I had to go to the airport in Kiev for 4am and then in Amsterdam I had a flight at 6am to Birmingham.

“It’s good we’ve got everything done in one day.

“When I got my visa I was so happy.

“Now I will have time to sleep - and on Monday I will meet up with the national team.”

The 6ft2in full-back also insists he is unfazed by facing some of the world’s best players in the Barclays Premier League, believing it will bring the best out in him.

“I like Premier League football because I like to push forward, I like to cross, I like to fight and come back and make good defence,” said Popov.

“I feel good when I play against famous players and I enjoyed my Europa League games against Man City and Stoke over the last few seasons.

“I play well when I play against big teams and big players.

“I feel good and I want to show that.”

Popov follows in the footsteps of fellow Macedonia international Artim Sakiri by joining the Baggies and the former Red Star Belgrade man, whose brother Robert also represented his country, knows him well.

“I remember he scored from a corner against England and not long after he joined West Bromwich," he said.

“My brother also played in that game at right-back so I know Sakiri well because he also played in the national team with me.

“I haven’t spoken to him because I haven’t seen him for a long time.

“He finished with the national team four years ago and I don’t have contact with him.

“But we are good friends because we played together for the national team.”