Saturday, June 24

Daily WHUFC News - 25th June 2017

The Big Interview - Michail Antonio

We caught up with your Hammer of the Year, Michail Antonio, to find out more
about his ambitions for the season ahead after a campaign which saw him top
the club's scoring charts with nine league goals.

The 27 year-old recently signed a new four-year contract and is working hard
this summer on recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in April.

Good to catch up with you Michail, firstly how is your recovery programme

The rehab is going well, I'm on schedule and where I want to be. I had a
short break at the end of the season, but since then I've been back in at
the training ground every day, working hard and trying to make sure
everything is right.

It's been a lot of gym work, just to get the strength back in the hamstring
and remove the scar tissue. That's all progressing well and I'm raring to go
for the new season.

Injuries are the hardest part of being a footballer, definitely. Every
player just wants to play, so being on the sidelines, watching your
team-mates playing the game – it gets to you mentally. At the time, the
games were very important, and I just wanted to be involved, and do
something to help the team.

It was a surprise when it happened. I'd had a slight strain previously, but
I came back against Arsenal and it felt fine. I remember knocking the ball
past Hector Bellerin on a full sprint, and there was no problem, but in the
first 20 minutes against Swansea a few days later, it just popped.

I can only put it down to fatigue. I had played in basically every game last
season, and the season before that, so maybe my body just needed a rest. I
haven't kicked a ball now since early April, which is frustrating, but I am
really looking forward to getting back next season.

You put pen to paper on a new four-year deal - how pleased were you to
commit to West Ham?

It was pleasing to get the deal done before the summer started. The contract
talks went on for a long time and it can be quite distracting, so I'm
looking forward to going out next season and playing with a free mind.

Looking back at your career you must feel like you have come a long way over
the last few years?

It's always been about taking each step as it comes. Being honest, when I
was playing for Tooting & Mitcham, I was buzzing, thinking: 'I'm semi-pro.'
Then when I made my debut in League One, I was buzzing again, thinking 'I'm
pro'. Then it was the Championship, then the Premier League, and then called
up for England.

And each time it happened, it was a surprise to me. But I've always wanted
to make myself better, and I think that is why I have made those steps.
Because as soon as I reach a new one, I don't think: 'Ah that's it' and
settle. I always want to be better and kick on again.

I never think 'I've made it' because, in football, you can be forgotten
within two weeks. And I don't ever want to be forgotten. I want to always be
better and make my career last as long as possible.

It does make me proud to know where I've come from and how hard I have
worked, but I'm also scared of it, because I know what I've had to do, and I
don't ever want to go back to that situation. It drives me more to be

Football is about a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck. I got to
Reading because Billy Smith, my manager at Tooting & Mitcham, knew Steve
Coppell and told him to come and watch me. But I also had a trial for
Millwall, who wanted to sign me after noticing me play. So although there
was a bit of luck in getting to Reading, it was my hard work that got me
noticed, and at the end of the day that is what it always comes down to.

What should be the target for the team next season?

Looking back at last season, I don't think you can really call it a bad
season. We finished eleventh, one point off eighth, which you can't say is a
bad season.

This team has a lot of character. Despite people talking about relegation
last season, we never believed that. We knew we had the quality in our squad
to pull away from danger.

But as a team, we want to progress and keep improving – that is our aim next
season. We finished seventh the season before last, and that is what we
should be looking towards again.

Being called up for England this season must have been really satisfying

It's pleasing to know that I have now been called up by two England
managers, and hopefully it shows that it wasn't a fluke to get into Sam
Allardyce's squad at the start of last season. That was definitely one of
the proudest moments of my career. As a child growing up, watching England,
it was one of those things you always wanted to be involved in.

The World Cup next year isn't in my mind, though. I don't really pay
attention to the long-term, I take short steps – that is what I have done
through my whole career, from non-league to the Premier League. You've got
to take each step as it comes – you can't think about 20 steps away because
it will distract you and trip you up.

Of course I want to get into the England World Cup team, especially having
been so close, but I'm not going to be concentrating on it or let it be at
the front of my mind. I have to play games and do well for West Ham – that
is my focus.

Pablo Zabaleta has joined the Hammers…how excited are you about having him
in he squad?

He has great experience with Manchester City, he's won the Premier League
title and experienced it all. It's not just ability that he is bringing,
it's his knowledge of the game, and we can all learn from him.

And how important was that Hammer of the Year award?

It's the greatest honour from the fans. I was speechless, to be honest. I
had been runner-up to Dimitri Payet the previous season, so to then go on
and win the award shows the progress I have made. And I don't want to step
back – I want to keep pushing and hopefully do enough to win it again next

And finally what are your hopes for next season?

I am so determined to have a great season, especially after the injury. My
target at the start of last season was to improve and score more goals than
I had the previous year. And I ended up getting the same number, nine.

I could blame the injury and say I would have beaten it, but that's not how
I think. All I think is: 'I didn't reach my target.'

So next season, I want to reach it. I want to get to that mark as soon as
possible so that I can make it higher, keep pushing myself and keep getting

Alvaro Arbeloa: Former Liverpool and West Ham defender retires

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and West Ham defender Alvaro Arbeloa has
announced his retirement. The 34-year-old former Spain full-back made three
Premier League appearances for the Hammers last season before being
released. He spent three years with the Reds before returning to Madrid, for
whom he made his senior debut, in 2009. Arbeloa won one La Liga title and
the Champions League twice at Madrid before signing for West Ham last
August. "It's time to say goodbye," he said. "Physically I was OK to keep
playing." He made more than 200 appearances in total for Liverpool, Madrid
and West Ham between 2007 and 2017 and was capped 56 times by Spain. He was
part of his country's World Cup-winning squad in 2010 and helped them win
the European Championship in 2008 and 2012. In an interview with Spanish
newspaper Marca he suggested he would be open to a return to the Bernabeu.
"Madrid is the club of my life, I will never call to ask for a job, but I am
always available to offer myself," he said.


Personal Information
Rui Patricio
Age: 29 years
Height: 6 ft 3 in

Positions : Goalkeeper

Nationality: Portuguese

Current Team: Sporting CP


Born in Marrazes, Leiria
Rui Patricio has been a consistent part of the Portuguese National team set
up since the U16's team. Rui was part of the Portugal team that won the EURO
2016 final and is hugely experienced. 60 Caps for his country and has been a
very reliable figure for both club and country.

Style of play

Rui Patricio is a very experienced consistent goalkeeper. He is very
commanding, makes good decisions and match winning saves. He has a strong
mentality, a reliable player to have and gives defence good communication. I
have watched Patricio play many games down the years and I don't remember
him having many bad performances at all. He performs well game to game and I
believe he could easily play in the Premier League if given a chance. He has
the ability to react quickly to unexpected shots/ deflections, very quick
minded. Positions himself adequately in goal, experienced and composed. I
can't think of a reason why he could not play for a top 4 club. For example
I believe he is far better than Joe Hart who West Ham have been rumoured to
be in for. He would command Lower wages also… so I would think he would be
the better option for West Ham if we are on the lookout for a new GK. If you
want to see him in action the Confederations Cup is on TV across ITV

Written by Richard Jones – via twitter @emagehtjr

STRENGTHS : Command of Area – Reflexes

Peter Odemwingie reveals he has spoken to Arsenal and West Ham target Henry
Onyekuru about a summer move
The young striker's form in 2016/17 attracted the attention of numerous
clubs around Europe, including Arsenal, West Ham and Celtic
The Mirror
19:40, 24 JUN 2017UPDATED19:42, 24 JUN 2017

Nigerian youngster Henry Onyekuru took the Belgian Jupiler League by storm
last season and scored 24 goals in all competitions. The young KAS Eupen
striker's form attracted the attention of numerous clubs around Europe,
including Arsenal, West Ham and Celtic. Here, former Premier League hit-man
Peter Odemwingie tells our sister paper the Birmingham Mail what his
compatriot would offer a British club. 'The numbers speak for themselves' -
that's Peter Odemwingie's message to Henry Onyekuru 's suitors this summer.
Birmingham City are one of a number of teams to have shown an interest in
the 20-year-old forward, who has made no secret of his desire to leave
Belgian side KAS Eupen this summer. Harry Redknapp is keen on the striker,
but understands the prospect of Premier League football with either Arsenal
or West Ham may be too tempting for Onyekuru to turn down. And it is the
Premier League where Onyekuru wants to be, having seen fellow Nigerian
strikers Kanu, Odemwingie and Yakubu thrive in England's top flight. "I
think the numbers speak for themselves," Odemwingie told the Birmingham
Mail. "I don't know him much really. He rang me asking for help and advice
in the last window in January. He told me there was an option with Celtic
and options here and there. "I said if you want to play in the Premier
League, which is where every player should aim at at some point in his
career, coming to Scotland means you're one step closer and people will
easily send scouts to watch you there. "And the work permit issue will be
less difficult because he is still part of the UK.
"There is interest in him because he scores a lot of goals. I don't know if
in England physicality might be a problem for him, but he's quite mobile and
quick so maybe he can do it over here." Onyekuru scored 24 goals across all
competitions in Belgium last season, including 10 in his final 10 matches.
Odemwingie is playing in the Ryder Cup-style Icons of Football tournament at
the Belfry this weekend. The former West Brom striker is joined by Blues
favourite Kevin Phillips, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is
also in attendance.

West Ham eye transfer of Arsenal's Theo Walcott with the England winger
fearing for his World Cup hopes
The 28-year-old lost out when the Gunners changed to 3-5-2 late last season,
PLUS: Hammers plan new deal for star
The Mirror
22:30, 24 JUN 2017

West Ham have made England international Theo Walcott a £25million ­target.
The Arsenal winger was out of favour at the Emirates ­during the latter part
of the season. He also lost his place in the England squad under Gareth
Southgate. Walcott was clearly frustrated at his lack of game time in the
3-5-2 system ­introduced by manager Arsene Wenger. He showed immense
restraint in not going public with his problem with the ­omission. But at
28, he has still to reach his peak as a player. He harbours dreams of
­making the England squad for the World Cup next summer, and knows that will
be an impossible dream if he is a regular substitute at ­Arsenal. Meanwhile,
Manuel Lanzini is set for a bumper new contract that would bring him in line
with West Ham's top earners. The Argentinian stepped up last season
following ­Dimitri ­Payet's ­departure to Marseille and was one of the
club's top creators. That form didn't go unnoticed away from the London
Stadium, with interest registered from rival clubs, but the Hammers are keen
to keep Lanzini and are ready to hand him a deal with improved terms.

* ARSENAL and bitter rivals Spurs are battling for versatile Charlton
defender Ezra Konsa. The 19-year-old was a member of England's World
Cup-winning Under-20 squad.


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