West Ham’s 47-Year Wait: From Underdogs to European Final | OneFootball

West Ham’s 47-Year Wait: From Underdogs to European Final | OneFootball

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·19 mai 2023

West Ham’s 47-Year Wait: From Underdogs to European Final

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West Ham’s European Journey: Scratching a 47-Year Itch

The face of David Moyes, usually a bastion of calm, was a canvas of raw emotion. His West Ham side had just triumphed, in an electrifying 3-1 aggregate, against the Dutch team. A well-timed final blow from Pablo Fornals in injury time set the seal on this victory and the implications were colossal – West Ham had reached their first European final in 47 years.

“You have done a fucking unbelievable job. Not just tonight, but through the whole tournament and getting to the final. It is a fucking brilliant achievement by you all — well done, team,” Moyes, the architect of West Ham’s European expedition, let loose in a rare and impassioned post-match oration.

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As the players absorbed the magnitude of their achievement, the mood was marred by concerns for their families’ safety amidst a troubled crowd. However, this discord couldn’t overshadow the unalloyed joy of reaching the final, where they will confront Fiorentina in the Prague showdown.

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High Spirits in the Dressing Room and a Tearful Celebration

When the dust settled, the away dressing room was humming with euphoria. Everyone was singing – the staff, the squad, even Moyes himself. Their melodies of choice? “West Ham are massive” and a ‘90s country/dance crossover, “Cotton Eye Joe”. The players hoped to savour the victory by staying overnight, but Moyes, with his characteristic professionalism, urged them to return to the UK post haste.

A crate of beer was wheeled into the changing room by none other than Mark Noble. Noble, a former captain turned sporting director, could barely contain his tears of joy as he joined his former teammates in the celebrations, singing the Jarrod Bowen chant and revelling in the euphoria.

As they journeyed towards the airport, the bus was pulsating with high spirits. Players like Said Benrahma, Lucas Paqueta, Alphonse Areola and Kurt Zouma joined in, their dance moves matching the rhythm of the Afrobeat song “KU LO SA” by Oxlade.

Once they landed back in the UK, preparations for the Sunday league game against Leeds United were initiated, but the merriment from the night before lingered. Andy Carroll, the former striker, joined the thousands of fans in Amsterdam to revel in the atmosphere of West Ham’s monumental achievement.

Moyes’ Motivation: Redemption from Past Defeats

In the lead-up to the AZ match, Moyes had reminded his players of last season’s Europa League semi-final loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. He impressed upon them the memories of the German side’s jubilation and used that as a motivational tool. A year after that bitter loss, West Ham returned more organised and more composed, besting their Dutch adversaries.

This season, West Ham’s run in the Conference League has had more thrilling wins, but the victory against the Dutch side was a testament to the mental strength of the team. Moyes’ men refused to be overwhelmed by the occasion as they endeavoured to clinch the club’s first major trophy since the 1980 FA Cup.

Club captain Declan Rice summed it up by saying, “When you get to finals, there’s only one objective: to win. I was lucky enough to get to a final with England which we didn’t win. Now there’s a chance to rectify that with West Ham and to lift that trophy. I want that. I’ve been at West Ham since I was 14, so this would be the icing on the cake in terms of a top season for us. We’re buzzing and also for the fans… they’ve waited such a long time.”

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Fornals: The Unsung Hero of West Ham’s Journey

Pablo Fornals, whose late goal clinched the victory for West Ham, knelt in disbelief at the final whistle. Selected for drug testing, he was unable to join the dressing room celebrations, but his heroics on the pitch had made their mark.

Reflecting on his season, he said, “This moment for me and my family after this difficult season is unbelievable. I’m having a lot of feelings inside myself and when I score or have moments like that, when I’m with my son receiving a hug or a kiss from him, I realise how happy I am and how proud I am to be here right now.”

The adage certainly holds true for West Ham. Moyes has waited 14 long years to reach another final as manager, while Aaron Cresswell has spent a year reliving his sending off against Eintracht. Fornals has patiently bided his time for opportunities, and the board has waited 13 years to see their club reach a European final.

The Conference League, once a distant dream, is now a cherished reality. West Ham, more importantly, is ready for the biggest stage. This group of players are determined and talented. Their next objective? To etch their names in the annals of West Ham’s history in Prague.

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