Club News

Samaras joins Baggies

Albion make Greece international their ninth summer signing

ALBION have boosted their forward options by making Georgios Samaras their ninth summer signing.

The Greece international has penned a two-year deal, after passing a Hawthorns medical, and will wear the No.30 shirt.

The Baggies have beaten off competition from a host of clubs across Europe to land the signature of the 29-year-old former Celtic fans’ favourite on a Bosman.

The 6ft 4in striker will now battle it out with club-record signing Brown Ideye, Saido Berahino and Victor Anichebe for a place in Alan Irvine’s forward line.

“We’ve signed a player with vast experience and I’m delighted to welcome Sami to the club,” said the head coach.

“He has played a lot of football at the highest levels – Champions League, European Championships and World Cups - and the feedback we’ve got on him, from people like Neil Lennon, states he thrives on the big occasion.

“He will certainly play in plenty of those in the Barclays Premier League.

“Georgios has played in big games for a Celtic team that have often had a lot of the ball and have had to work hard to break the opposition down.

“But he has also shown another side to his game in other matches when they haven’t seen as much of the ball.”

Irvine is excited by the attacking options at his disposal.

“We have now got four strikers with different qualities who can be used in different ways,” added the Scot.

“That’s great for us, because we need to have flexibility, the option to approach games in different ways and cover for injuries.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the four strikers we have.”

Samaras, who won’t be involved at Southampton tomorrow, impressed at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. His dramatic stoppage-time penalty against Ivory Coast sent Greece through to the knockout stages for the first time in his country’s history, where they were only beaten by Costa Rica on spot-kicks.

He also played a pivotal role in Celtic’s run to the Champions League last-16 during the 2012/13 campaign.

Albion technical director Terry Burton added: “Georgios is not your archetypal 6ft 4in striker.

“There is a physicality to his game but he’s also got pace, is good technically, handles the ball well and can stretch teams.

“He’s got good experience of the big occasion and that’s often when his best moments came at Celtic.”

Samaras began his professional career with Dutch outfit Heerenveen in 2002 before moving to Manchester City for £6million in January 2006 at the age of 20.
Under then-manager Stuart Pearce, he fired 12 goals in 36 starts in all competitions for City, before heading to Parkhead, initially on loan, in January 2008.

During his six-year stay north of the border, he notched 53 goals in 108 league starts and won four Scottish Premier League titles, two FA Cups and one League Cup.

Samaras carried his impressive Champions League form during the 2012/13 campaign into the SPL, scoring nine goals in 18 starts and seven substitute appearances to help earn him the club’s Player-of-the-Year Award.