The boys have been fantastic insists West Ham captain Mark Noble
- Credit: PA
As a lifelong West Ham United supporter, nobody was prouder to experience the Hammers’ record-breaking 2020/21 season than Mark Noble.
He may have started fewer games than he has in any of the previous 13 seasons, and the fewest since he broke into the first team as a teenager in the spring of 2007, but the 34-year-old was not complaining.
Instead, he was doing what he has done for years, leading, inspiring and giving his teammates an environment in which they could relax, concentrate on their football during a season full of off-field challenges, and thrive.
The result was a record Premier League points tally, goal difference and away wins, a sixth-place finish and qualification for next season’s UEFA Europa League group stage.
Noble announced in March this year that next season will be his 18th and last as a Hammer, and he said that he is delighted that his club, and his squad, will go into it on the back of one of the best league seasons in its 126-year history.
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“Yeah! It’s exciting, obviously. We’ve had an incredible season and I’m looking forward to it," Noble admitted.
With the players we’ve got, team spirit goes a long way in football and I’ve always said that.
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"When you bring the likes of big Tom in, Vlad, Jarrod, Saïd, everyone has stuck together. Jesse (Lingard) has come in on loan and big Daws has come in and it’s just gelled.
"It just shows you that, if you work as a team and as a collective, you can really do well.
“Yes, we’ve got some top players but they all work for each other. You saw that on Sunday, when we didn’t start so well and the players were a bit nervous because the fans were back, but once got that first goal we settled down and controlled it from there.”
Noble himself hasn't played as much this season but is pleased to be able to watch his side have success.
“Do you know what? For me now, it was my birthday this month and I’m 34, and you know when you get to my age that you’re not like you were when you’re 21 or 22. I’ve played the number of games I have because I’ve managed to stay fit and look after myself and churn the games out.
"In fact, it’s been really nice to sit up there and watch the boys play and play when I’ve needed to play like Wolves away and Leicester at home, when we got some fantastic results.
"I think that’ll be my role again next year and with a European tour it’ll be fantastic for us and I’m really excited.
"We’re obviously going to need some more players because of the amount of games we’re going to have, but the boys have done a fantastic job.”