Wednesday, August 31

Daily WHUFC News - 1st September 2016

Small margins cost Hammers in Trophy

West Ham United were beaten in their first Checkatrade Trophy tie at
Coventry City
The hosts triumphed 4-2 at the Ricoh Arena against Terry Westley's young
The boss said there were certainly positives to take from the match

Terry Westley admitted his side did not quite pass the test in their first
Checkatrade Trophy tie against Coventry City on Tuesday night. The Hammers
were beaten 4-2 by the west Midlands side at the Ricoh Arena in the
newly-formatted competition, but there was another double for Spanish
striker Toni Martinez. And Westley explained there were other positives to
take from the clash, though many things can also be learned from the
experience. "The players are disappointed and rightly so, because at this
level it's about winning as much as anything else. Tonight we didn't quite
pass the test. There were some good bits, but certainly not enough. "Overall
though, we're pleased. To think that was a nearly full-strength Coventry
team and for us to go in level at half time, there are a lot of positives to
take out of it. If you defend naively though, as we did in the end, you
can't win a match. "We need to grow up properly as a team, and you do that
over time. We stretched them though, and it was certainly a game."

It was many of the players' first experience against a senior first team and
Coventry's side was packed full of experienced Football League talent.
Marvin Sordell, formerly of Watford and Bolton Wanderers, led the line, and
there were also places for Chris McCann and Gael Bigirimana. "They had an
experienced side and we lost the game through small margins," Westley
continued. "It's not big things. They scored three goals from set-pieces.
There's a danger they can score from those and the higher you go, the more
quality deliveries have. "You'll get punished. We have eight out on loan and
then this group is the level underneath and we have some real fine players.
Declan Rice is ready for this level anytime he wants. Alex Pike did well
moving late on to centre-back and there were another two goals for Toni
Martinez, which is what he is. "We want our players to be playing even
higher so these small details matter even more."

Two-goal Toni vows to keep working hard

Toni Martinez scored twice in West Ham United's 4-2 defeat at Coventry City
in the Checkatrade Trophy
In the new EFL Trophy format, a young Hammers side came up against an
experienced Coventry outfit and performed well
Martinez believes results will come in the competition if the side continue
to work hard on the training ground

Toni Martinez believes he and his teammates will see better results in their
upcoming fixtures if they continue to work hard on the training ground. The
young Spaniard was on the scoresheet twice in West Ham United's 4-2 defeat
to an almost full-strength Coventry side in the Checkatrade Trophy; his
fourth and fifth goals of an already impressive first campaign at the Club.
Martinez opened the scoring on half an hour, poking home after good
persistence inside the penalty, but the Hammers were pegged back just three
minutes later by Jordan Turnbull. Coventry went on to make the score 4-1
after goals from Ruben Lameiras, Jordan Willis and Turnbull again before
Martinez netted a late consolation with a superb volley.
He said: "It was an important game for us, to play against good opposition,
to show what we've got and use it as part of our development. "Hopefully
we've shown some of what we can do but obviously we know there are a few
things we can do better. "If we keep working the way we are the results will
come, for sure."

Martinez's second goal was the pick of the bunch – a dipping right-footed
volley which left Coventry keeper Lee Burge stranded. Since joining the
Hammers in the summer from Valencia, Martinez has bagged five goals in just
four competitive matches and hopes his good form catches the eye of the
first team coaches. "Confidence is really important for scoring goals but
it's also important to have an objective in your mind," the 19-year-old
continued. "I set myself objectives in pre-season and I have that in my mind
every time I head out onto the pitch.
"For forwards, the goals are really important but they only come because of
the hard work everyone else is doing in the team. "It wasn't my intention to
lift the ball over the keeper but it's one of those goals which you'll take!
They all count and it's a good feeling to score no matter how you do. I'm
very happy. "I want to keep trying to score goals so I can catch the eye of
the first team."

Valencia joins Toffees on loan

West Ham United striker Enner Valencia has joined Everton on a season-long
loan with a view to buy in summer 2017. The Ecuador international will link
up with the Toffees for the 2016/17 campaign on his return from
international duty in South America. Valencia has appeared 67 times for West
Ham since joining from Mexican club Pachuca in summer 2014, scoring ten
goals. Under Premier League rules, the 26-year-old will not be able to play
against the Hammers this season.
West Ham United would like to wish Enner the best in his loan spell with the

Belic moves to Motherwell

West Ham United striker Luka Belic has joined Scottish Premiership club
Motherwell on loan until January 2017. Capped by his native Serbia
throughout the age groups, Belic became the youngest player to feature in
Serbia's top division when he turned out for OFK Beograd as a 16-year-old in
April 2012. Now 20, Pancevo-born Belic appeared six times for West Ham's
Development Squad last season, scoring at Derby County in February. West Ham
United would like to wish Luka the best in his loan spell in Scotland.

Diego departs

West Ham United and Diego Poyet have agreed to terminate the midfielder's
contract by mutual consent. The 21-year-old departs the Hammers having made
ten appearances in all competitions in his two years in east London. Poyet,
who was signed from Charlton Athletic, is now free to join another club
outside the transfer window. "I have enjoyed my two seasons with West Ham
and would like to thank the Club for giving me the opportunity to fulfil a
dream of playing in the Premier League," he said. "However, following
discussions, it was agreed that we would mutually terminate my contract to
enable me to continue my development elsewhere."

Everyone at the Club would like to thank Diego for his hard work and
commitment and wish him every success in the future.

Randolph kicks-off international break with win

Darren Randolph and Martin Samuelsen were both in action for their national
sides on Wednesday
The stopper's Republic of Ireland were 4-0 winners over Oman
Samuelsen was a second half substitute for Norway in their 1-0 defeat at
home to Belarus

West Ham United goalkeeper Darren Randolph's Republic of Ireland kicked-off
the international break with a convincing 4-0 victory over Oman at the Aviva

The stopper, who impressed in the nation's UEFA Euro 2016 campaign this
summer, came on as a second half substitute, replacing Keiren Westwood at
the break in skipper Robbie Keane's final game for the Boys in Green.

And the former Hammer got on the scoresheet in his swansong, bagging the
hosts' second after half an hour following Robbie Brady's opener.

Stoke City's Jonathan Walters then notched either side of the break to put
the clash beyond Ireland's Arabian opponents.

Martin O'Neill's outfit next take on Serbia away from home in their first
2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Monday.

Also in action was exciting Norwegian winger Martin Samuelsen, who is
currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers.

The 19-year-old, who is yet to make an appearance for the Lancashire outfit,
played just under half an hour against Belarus in Oslo in the international

It was his second senior appearance for his country, having made his debut
in a 3-2 win over Iceland back in June.

Samuelsen recently signed a new four-year deal with the the Hammers before
joining Owen Coyle's Blackburn alongside Stephen Hendrie who is also on loan
at Ewood Park.

The Scandinavians take on Germany in their first qualifier for the World Cup
on Sunday evening.

Havard Nordtveit did not feature in the same fixture, while Gokhan Tore was
an unused substitute for Turkey in their home friendly against Russia.

Hammers sign World Cup winner

Alvaro Arbeloa joins West Ham United on a one-year contract and will wear
the No5 shirt
Full-back won FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championship titles with
Versatile defender reached three UEFA Champions League final, winning the
trophy in 2014

West Ham United are delighted to announce the signing of FIFA World Cup and
two-time UEFA European Championship winner Alvaro Arbeloa.

The highly-decorated Spanish full-back, who has also won the UEFA Champions
League, joins the Hammers on a one-year contract and will add huge
experience and ability to Slaven Bilic's squad.

The former Liverpool defender, who underwent a medical at Spire Roding
Hospital on Wednesday, told West Ham TV he is looking forward to returning
to the Premier League and pulling on the Claret and Blue shirt for the first

"I am really happy to be here in a great Club in a great league," Arbeloa
told West Ham TV. "I'm really happy to be back in England and, for me, it's
a great chance and I'm looking forward to playing with this side.

"The Stadium is amazing. It's really nice and looks fantastic. Hopefully I'm
going to see the Stadium full with all our fans and I'm really happy to be

"For me, this is a great chance to be back in England and in the Premier
League, which is a fantastic league and I want to put myself here again.
This is a big Club and a great Club with fantastic players and a great

"Slaven wants to see me training as soon as possible. I was talking with
[Croatia internationals] Luka Modric and Matteo Kovacic and they told me
good things about the coach, so I want to work with him and hopefully I can
learn a lot of things."

Born in Salamanca in January 1983, Arbeloa came through the youth ranks at
Real Zaragoza before joining Real Madrid at the age of 18. There, he
excelled for the club's C and B teams before being handed a first-team debut
against Real Betis in October 2004.

With massive competition for places at the Estadio Santiagio Bernabeu, where
Spain international Michel Salgado and Brazil great Roberto Carlos filled
the full-back positions, Arbeloa opted to continue his career with Deportivo
La Coruna in summer 2006.

After six months in Galicia, the defender was signed by compatriot Rafael
Benitez, who was in the midst of his successful reign as Liverpool manager.

Arbeloa appeared 98 times over two-and-a-half seasons with the Anfield club,
including the 2007 UEFA Champions League final defeat by AC Milan.

July 2009 saw the versatile player heading back to former club Real Madrid,
where he spent the next six seasons as a regular member of the starting XI,
initially at left-back and latterly at right-back.

A maiden La Liga title arrived in 2012, sandwiched by Spanish Cup successes
in 2011 and 2014 – the same year in which he also won the UEFA Champions
League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

Capped 56 times by Spain, Arbeloa was a member of the best squad in the
country's history. His finest moment in a red shirt came in 2012, when he
started all six games at right-back as Spain defended the European
Championship title, conceding just one goal in six matches.

Arbeloa also featured once at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup finals
respectively as La Roja carried all before them to win both titles.

The 33-year-old becomes the 12th signing of the summer, following Ghana
captain Andre Ayew Algeria winger Sofiane Feghouli, Norway midfielder Havard
Nordtveit, Italy striker Simone Zaza, French left-back Arthur Masuaku, Swiss
midfielder Edmilison Fernandes, Turkey winger Gokhan Tore, Argentine striker
Jonathan Calleri, promising centre forward Ashley Fletcher and youngsters
Domingos Quina and Toni Martinez.

Arbeloa will link up with fellow countrymen Adrian, Pedro Obiang and
Martinez at London Stadium and will become the seventh Spaniard to play for
the Club, following Kepa Blanco, Diego Tristan and Manuel Almunia.

Henry loaned to AC Horsens

West Ham United defender Doneil Henry has joined Danish Superliga club AC
Horsens on a season-long loan.

The 23-year-old centre-half will link up with the Jutland-based club when he
returns from international duty with Canada.

Henry will gain more valuable first-team experience with The Yellow Danger,
having previously made 93 appearances for MLS club Toronto FC and spent two
spells on loan at Championship side Blackburn Rovers. His West Ham debut
came in a UEFA Europa League tie with Astra Giurgiu in August 2015.

The Brampton-born player suffered a leg injury during West Ham's US Tour in
July but has returned to fitness in time for two vital 2018 FIFA World Cup
qualifiers away to Honduras and home to El Salvador.

Horsens were promoted from the First Division last season and have made a
decent start to life in the top flight under the management of former
Bristol Rovers striker Bo Henriksen, sitting sixth after seven matches.

West Ham United would like to wish Doneil the best in his loan spell in

Randolph - Ireland still on a high

Darren Randolph's Republic of Ireland kick-off 2018 World Cup qualifying
Boys in Green face Serbia in Belgrade in Group D opener on Monday 5
Ireland reached Round of 16 at UEFA Euro 2016 earlier this summer

Darren Randolph is aiming to help the Republic of Ireland kick-off their
2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a win in Serbia on Monday.

The West Ham United goalkeeper has been central figure during a fantastic
year for the Boys in Green, helping Ireland to qualify for and then reach
the Round of 16 at UEFA Euro 2016.

Ireland will give their retiring all-time record goalscorer Robbie Keane – a
former Hammers loanee himself – a send-off when Oman visit Dublin on
Wednesday evening, before jetting out to Belgrade for a difficult-looking
Group D qualifier.

The group also contains James Collins' Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales and
Austria, who finished bottom of Group F in France, as well as potential
banana skins in Georgia and Moldova. Only the group winners qualify
automatically for Russia 2018, with the runners-up going into a two-legged

While the odds may not be in Ireland's favour, Randolph says the men from
the Emerald Isle can upset them again by reaching their first World Cup
finals since 2002.

"You could look at it that in the way that we will be getting one of the
tougher games in the group out of the way first," said Randolph of the
opening group fixture. "It's a tough group and Serbia is a tough place to
go, anyway.

"After how well we performed at Euro 2016, we're obviously going to still be
on a high. We had a very young team, so the experience should stand everyone
in good stead and there were a lot of positives to take. Aside from the
Belgium game, we played well against good sides with top world-class

"The coaching staff told us to look back and be proud of what we achieved.
Nobody expected us to get a point or to get out of the group, which we did.
We've got a lot of younger players who were playing in their first
tournament, so it will stand us in good stead."

While Ireland are feeling confident ahead of their opening qualifier, Wales
too will go into the campaign in positive mood following their own
outstanding Euro 2016 showing.

The Dragons beat Slovakia, Russia, Northern Ireland and Belgium to advance
to the last four, where they were beaten by Portugal, and Randolph believes
Chris Coleman's men will be their biggest rivals for top spot.

"Wales are going to go into the group on a high after reaching the
semi-finals of Euro 2016, Austria will probably feel they have something to
prove and Serbia are always tough to play against, then it's never easy
against teams like Moldova and Georgia."

Poyet contract cancelled 'by mutual consent'
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

Young midfielder Diego Poyet has been allowed to leave West Ham on a free
transfer. The combative midfielder briefly featured for the first team
during last season's Europa League qualifying rounds but failed to make an
impact. Subsequently Poyet spent most of the season on loan at MK Dons and
former club Charlton Athletic, from whom he joined the Hammers in 2014. His
four-year contract has been cancelled by mutual agreement.
In other deadline day transfer news, Doneil Henry has joined Danish
Superliga outfit AC Horsens on a season-long loan. The Canadian centre half,
23, was brough into the club by Sam Allardyce on the recommendation of
former Blackburn player Ryan Nelsen during the January 2015 transfer window
bu tsimilarly failed to make an impact.
Finally, young forward Luca Belic has joined Scottish Premiership side
Motherwell on loan until the beginning of January. The 20-year-old barely
featured for the Development Squad last season and will be hoping to
resurrect his career north of the border.

Valencia completes Everton switch
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

Hammers striker Enner Valencia has completed a move to Everton. The Ecuador
international has joined the Toffees on a season-long loan, with view to a
permanent transfer for a fee in the region of £14million. Swansea had been
favourites to sign the 26-year-old, who arrived at the Boleyn Ground in 2014
but managed to score just five goals last season. However Everton, who were
desperate to sign new attacking options gazumped the Welsh club just a
matter of hours ahead of tonight's 11pm deadline.

Arbeloa signs one-year contract
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United have completed the capture of Alvaro Arbeloa on a free
transfer. The former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Deportivo star, who was part
of Spain's World Cup-winning team six years ago has signed a one-year
contract with the Hammers. I am really happy to be here," 33-year-old
Arbeloa told West Ham's website, "I'm really happy to be back in England.
It's a great chance for me and I'm looking forward to playing with this
side. This is a great chance to be back in England and in the Premier
League, which is a fantastic league. I want to play here again. This is a
big club and a great club with fantastic players and a great coach. Slaven
wants to see me train as soon as possible. I was talking with Luka Modric
and Matteo Kovacic and they told me good things about the coach, so I want
to work with him. Hopefully I can learn a lot of things."

Moncur on the move - again
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

Former Hammer George Moncur has made his second move already this summer.
The young midfielder, who left West Ham in order to join Colchester United
two years ago moved from the North Essex club to Barnsley in June for a fee
reported to be worth around £500,000. However after making just tw first
team appearances for the Tykes in the Championship, Moncur - now 23 - has
completed a return to League One by joining Peterborough on loan until
January. "It has been a mad day or so, but I am delighted to be here,"
Moncur told the Peterborough's website, "I can't wait to get
started and put on the blue shirt. I am here to create goals, run at people
and hopefully score goals and the aim is to try and break into the team
straight away. Meanwhile manager Grant McCann, another former player who
began his career at West Ham admiytted that he was delighted to secure
Moncur's signature. "I am really pleased," he said. "We tried to get him in
the summer but the boy wanted to test himself in the Championship, which is
fair enough. We are delighted to have him on board. "He scored 15 goals in a
side that was relegated last season and that speaks volumes for him. He is
only going to add to our attacking threat."


It has been officially confirmed today that West Ham starlet Reece Burke has
joined Championship side Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan deal. The
19-year old, who starred for Bradford on loan last season, joins Wigan in
search of first team football to prepare him for a run at the Hammers' first
team, as was first reported by on Saturday.

Burke, who turns 20 in September, is widely regarded within the club as the
most promising player to emerge from the Academy of Football in a decade,
and as the obvious successor to James Collins in the heart of the West Ham
defence. So strong is the club's faith in this young man, that it has been
suggested that the decision to move on fan's favourite James Tomkins was
taken in order to provide space for Burke and fellow academy graduate Reece
Oxford to progress. It had been hoped, according to ExWhuEmployee, that
Burke would remain at the club for the season in order to play a key role in
the Europa League campaign. However, with West Ham's embarrassing European
exit last Thursday, it has been decided that it is best that the Englishman
go and prove himself at Championship level instead, having excelled himself
in League One last year.

Burke, a lifelong West Ham fan, seems keen to head out on loan to get game
time, and took to twitter to thank the club for "allowing" him to continue
his development. Seeing this level of commitment, maturity and
professionalism in such a young player, whom you can be sure harboured
ambitions of playing as many games as possible in the new London Stadium
this season, can only be perceived positively by the Irons' faithful, who
will be deeply heartened to see one of their own continuing his rise.
The West Ham Way was the first to break this story, as it featured in
ExWhuEmployee's weekend transfer round up. So, with deadline day looming
large and incomings on the horizon, we will be on hand to provide you with
the latest goings-on as they happen.

One of three for right back slot?
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham are weighing up moves for at least three full backs as the transfer
deadline approaches. Aston Villa's Micah Richards, Arsenal's Matthieu
Debuchy and Wolves' Southend-born youngster Dominic Iorfa have all been
strongly linked with a last-minute move to the Olympic Stadium ahead of this
evening's 11pm deadline.
Elsewhere Enner Valencia continues to be linked with a move to Swansea, with
a number of news sources now suggesting the Ecuador international could be
on his way to South Wales.
One player not coming to West Ham however is Manchester City striker
Wilfried Bony, who is currently undergoing a medical at Stoke City despite
having expressed a preference to join the Hammers (Star). The 27-year-old is
set to join The Potters on a season-long loan.

Hammers go Spanish in defender hunt
Filed: Wednesday, 31st August 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham are hoping to land former Spanish international Alvaro Arbeloa on a
free transfer. The 33-year-old full back is the surprise name to emerge on
transfer deadline day and is set to hold talks with the club later this
afternoon, after flying into the UK. Arbeloa, who made 56 appearances for
Spain between 2008 and 2013 has spent most of his career at Real Madrid but
also enjoyed spells with Deportivo and Liverpool. He was released by the
Spanish giants at the end of last season.
In other transfer news, West Ham are still keeping tabs on Aston Villa
defender Micah Richards as a back-up for Arbeloa should that particular deal
fall through. Meanwhile there have been no developments in Enner Valencia's
proposed move to Swansea nor the situation regarding Pedro Obiang's
potential switch to Fiorentina.

West Ham looking to sign free agent Alvaro Arbeloa on one-year deal - Sky
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 31/08/16 4:05pm

West Ham are giving a medical to free agent Alvaro Arbeloa with the view to
signing him on a one-year deal, according to Sky sources. The 33-year-old
left-back left Real Madrid at the end of his contract in June. It is
understood the Hammers see the former Liverpool player as a mentor rather
than replacement for right-back Sam Byram. And they are hoping his addition
will also liberate Michail Antonio to play further forward from the start of
games. Arbeloa is a veteran of European football with 53 caps for Spain
between 2008 and 2013, and over 50 appearances in the Champions League. He
began his career in the Real Madrid academy but made the grade at Liverpool
after a successful season at Deportivo La Coruna. He signed for Liverpool
for £2.6m in 2007 and made 95 appearances for the Reds before a £3.5m move
to Real in 2009.

Swansea in talks with West Ham over potential loan deal for striker Enner
15:00, 31 AUG 2016 UPDATED 15:01, 31 AUG 2016
The 26-year-old has slipped down the Hammers' pecking order following the
summer arrivals of Simone Zaza, Ashley Fletcher and Jonathan Calleri
The Mirror

Swansea are in talks with Enner Valencia over a loan deal for the West Ham
forward. The Ecuador striker joined from Mexican club Pachuca for £12million
in 2014 and has made nearly 70 appearances for the London club. But the
26-year-old has slipped down the Hammers' pecking order following the summer
arrivals of Simone Zaza, Ashley Fletcher and Jonathan Calleri.
Ahead of centre-back Alfie Mawson's move from Barnsley on Tuesday, Swans
boss Francesco Guidolin had declared his squad would be complete following
the addition of a central defender.
But Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins raised the prospect of "one or two loans"
on Tuesday night, and Press Association Sport understands Valencia has
headed to south Wales for talks.
"It's not always great to get things done last minute, but we'll see what
comes," Jenkins told BBC Wales Sport after Swansea's 3-0 Checkatrade Trophy
defeat at AFC Wimbledon. "We've done quite a lot of our business and if one
or two things come our way - one or two loans to add - we would look at

Enner Valencia set for Swansea move after falling out of favour at West Ham
West Ham forward Enner Valencia, 26, is set for a late move to Swansea
Francesco Guidolin has been on the trail of Valencia all summer
Ecuadorian Valencia has faded badly in east London after a bright start
PUBLISHED: 10:10, 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 11:30, 31 August 2016

Out-of-favour West Ham United forward Enner Valencia is set for a move to
Swansea City. The Welsh club have been on the trail of the Ecuadorian all
summer and will look to do a deal before the transfer deadline. Valencia,
who faded badly in east London after a bright start, is set to move to the
Liberty Stadium on loan with a view to a permanent deal. Francesco
Guidolin's men will also look to offload the likes of Franck Tabanou and
Marvin Emnes before the window shuts. Swansea signed defender Alfie Mawson
from Barnsley for an undisclosed fee on Tuesday. The 22-year-old has signed
a four-year deal after making a speedy rise up the footballing pyramid.
While at Brentford, where he started his career, he had loan spells with
Maidenhead United, Luton Town, Welling United and Wycombe Wanderers, who he
helped reach the League Two play-off final.

Chelsea transfer news: West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna on Antonio Conte's deadline
day wishlist
Deadline day live: All the transfer news and gossip as Chelsea chase late
Evening Standard

Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has added West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna to his
wish-list. Ogbonna played under the 46-year-old at Juventus and Italy and
earlier this month admitted how much he loved learning from the Blues boss.
The Italy international said: "He improved me – and every player – in terms
of character. When I heard that he had the chance to come [to England], I
thought it was good for him and good for the league." West Ham will be
reluctant to sell the 28-year-old, especially as they have already allowed
James Tomkins to join Crystal Palace this summer. Conte wants to increase
his options at the back, especially as Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav
Ivanovic are all over 30, while Kurt Zouma has yet to return from a knee
injury. Other back-up targets have been considered including Stefan de Vrij,
Victor Lindelof and Zenit St Petersburg defender Ezequiel Garay.

England new boy Michail Antonio puts West Ham breakthrough down to Dimitri
Payet and Victor Moses injuries
Michail Antonio is the only new player in Sam Allardyce's first squad
The 26-year-old struggled to break into West Ham's first-team plans
However injuries to key personnel saw him given chance to impress
PUBLISHED: 22:32, 30 August 2016 | UPDATED: 22:34, 30 August 2016

If it wasn't for a West Ham injury crisis, Michail Antonio admits he would
never have earned his surprise England call-up. The 26-year-old was the only
new face in Sam Allardyce's first squad, capping a whirlwind 12 months since
his move from Nottingham Forest. Antonio initially failed to make an impact
on West Ham manager Slaven Bilic — he was so anonymous that co-chairman
David Gold was tricked into retweeting a photo of a 'missing' West Ham fan
who was in fact the winger. But as a result of injuries to the likes of
Dimitri Payet and Victor Moses, Antonio was handed a chance by Bilic, making
his first start for the club in December. He has not looked back since,
nailing down his place in the West Ham side and breaking into the England
set-up. Reflecting on the moment he heard he was in the England squad,
Antonio said: 'The first time I cried was when I had my baby boy (Michail
Jr). 'This second time I welled up and thought I was going to cry. 'I had to
take a moment to control myself. At West Ham it was just those players who
were ahead of me and it took six players to get injured to get my
opportunity. 'He (Bilic) would say, "It's not your ability, it's just these
players are ahead of you". 'He always spoke to me and kept my faith up.
'When I first spoke to Allardyce I said I was very grateful for the
opportunity. He said, "There's no need to be grateful, if you look at your
stats and what you have done, you deserve to be here".'


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