Scaloni wears his heart on his pyjama sleeve

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The Independent Football

He may be an Argentinian international, a battle-hardened veteran of the Champions' League at his previous club Deportivo La Coruña but Lionel Scaloni, has shown a youthful enthusiasm for West Ham United.

The 27-year-old full-back has revealed that when he signed on loan at Upton Park on the final day of the January transfer window, at five minutes before midnight, that he persuaded the managing director, Paul Aldridge, to open the club shop especially - so he could sleep in a West Ham shirt.

"It's unusual, I know, but I really wanted to see the shirt that I was going to play in," Scaloni said. "As the transfer happened so quickly, I only found out that the club were interested in me on the day that I actually signed, so I just thought that this would help me familiarise myself with the club to some small degree.

"Mr Aldridge opened up the club shop and gave me a shirt, although he didn't print anything on the back. I think he would have drawn the line there if I'd asked him to do that. I was really excited about seeing the shirt for the first time, you know, I actually slept in the shirt that night." Unsurprisingly the 27-year-old, who has five caps for his country and who made his sixth appearance in the FA Cup victory over Bolton Wanderers, describes himself as a "very passionate player and passionate about whom I play for". "Yes, I just wanted to get a feel for West Ham," he said of wearing the claret and blue shirt to bed. "I wanted to immerse myself in the club as quickly as possible."

* The Football Association is to write to West Ham after a flare was thrown on to the pitch during Wednesday night's FA Cup fifth-round replay against Bolton. The flare, which came from a section of the home support, landed near Marlon Harewood after the West Ham striker had scored the extra-time winner.