Bilic: 'I'll turn down Hammers'

Slaven Bilic has insisted he will not leave his post with Croatia to take over as manager at West Ham.

Slaven Bilic has insisted he will not leave his post with Croatia to take over as manager at West Ham.

The club have identified the former Hammers defender as one of their top targets to succeed Alan Curbishley at Upton Park.

Bilic, quoted in The Sun, said: “I’m not going anywhere.

“Any club from England is a great opportunity. Not for money, honestly, for me it’s about ambition. It’s about working in England, a country you know I adore.

“But it’s like, no. West Ham is my club, I have feelings for them but I won’t go. And I won’t go to Newcastle.”

Bilic has impressed in his role with Croatia, leading his country to Euro 2008 at the expense of England last year.

Bilic, who turns 40 this week, is currently preparing his side to face England again in World Cup qualifier in Zagreb on Wednesday.

He added: “My answer is clear. No, I wouldn’t go as things stand.

“I had many offers in the period between our win at Wembley last November until I signed a new deal in May.

“I decided to stay. Whether that’s good for me only God knows.”

West Ham are in the process of interviewing candidates on their shortlist and are keen to speak to Bilic soon.

The Croatia football association, however, expressed anger and threatened to take legal action if they approach him without permission.

They also claim stories of the Hammers’ interest are a “dirty trick” to upset Croatia on the eve of their clash with England.

Secretary general Zorslav Srebic, quoted in the Daily Mirror, said: “Bilic has a deal with us and I want him to fulfil his work until we qualify for the World Cup in 2010.

“We have not authorised West Ham to speak to him. They say there has not been contact but if that happens they will be breaking the law and we will take action against them. Croatia is not inferior to an English club.”

President Vlatko Markovic added: “This is another dirty trick by the English. They obviously want to cause trouble for us before we play.

“It’s typical of the sleaze in English football. For the story about West Ham wanting Bilic to come out now is very poor.

“We are very suspicious and unhappy as it is not the first time something like this has happened with England.”

Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola is now thought to have moved into pole position for the job after impressing when interviewed for the second time in Rome over the weekend.

Zola, now joint coach of Italy Under-21s, has also been linked with the vacancy at Newcastle.

Another Italian, Roberto Donadoni, is also in contention while Michael Laudrup is also due to be interviewed today.

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