West Ham United have confirmed Slaven Bilic as their new manager to replace Sam Allardyce on a three-year deal.

After seeing a number of leading choices slip through their fingers, the former Upton Park player, one of the early contenders, emerged as the last man standing.

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The Croatian former defender spent 18 months at Upton Park and has previous managerial experience with Hajduk Split, Croatia and Besiktas. He guided the Turkish team to third. He also managed Croatia for six years, beating England twice in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

The club said in a statement: “West Ham United are delighted to announce the appointment of Slaven Bilic as the club’s new manager.

“The 46-year-old will become the 15th full-time manager in the Hammers’ 120-year history, returning to the club he played for 54 times.

“A law graduate and multilinguist who takes a meticulous approach to management, the new boss will arrive in London later this month following a family holiday, but has already begun preparations for West Ham’s maiden Europa League campaign.”

Bilic said: “I’m really glad to be back with West Ham United. It’s in the Premier League, which is among the best in the world. It’s a big challenge and you are competing with the best and what better club to do it with than West Ham.

“When I spoke to the chairmen and Karren Brady, they made clear that it is not only the fantastic new [Olympic] Stadium we are moving into, but they showed their determination and ambition to make what is a big club even bigger.

“I could feel that they really wanted me so it was an easy choice. I would say to the West Ham fans that I will give my best and together we will achieve great things.

“I remember West Ham as a special club. I love these kinds of special clubs. My last club, Besiktas, was that kind of club. It’s not about the size – West Ham is a big club – there is something special about them. They are a cult club.

“It is a great place to play and I felt like I was at home. It is a big privilege and a big responsibility to now be manager and I hope that I will prove it to the board, players and fans.”

Among those that the board had looked at were Rafael Benítez, David Moyes, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery and Michael Laudrup. They all either found new clubs or extended their stay at home.