Joe: Proudest Day

Joe Cole entered the realms of Hammers folklore on Saturday when he captained the side at just 21 years of age and says: "It was the proudest day of my life."

Joe, who marked the occasion by scoring West Ham's first goal at the Riverside, says: "It is a great honour for me to be captain. The gaffer told me on the way in on the coach, and just said 'you have got the respect of the lads and have been working hard, so you deserve it'.

"So I did it and thoroughly enjoyed it."

Not, though, that he was telling elder statesmen like Nigel Winterburn what to do on the field.

"I am not a shouter and a screamer," he says. "I just got on with my own game and tried to do my own things - and lead by example. I am really proud."

Joe being made captain brings to mind Bobby Moore skippering the Hammers at a similarly tender age, but Joe adds: "Does it? I am not into all those comparisons, I can't be compared to him.

"But I am chuffed to bits, even though I am disappointed we didn't win."

As for the goal, he says: "It just popped out to me, I just took it two yards, hit it, and it was a nice feeling when it just flew in.

"I haven't scored for about nine games and it felt good."

As for the overall view of the 2-2 draw, he says: "We just said that is the best performance we have put in this year. The ball was zipping around and it is nice when we are not all trying to dribble and do the amazing things.

"It works and we are taking this as a step on and we are going to Old Trafford to try and do something similar.

"The manager gets the stick but it is up to us players to take the responsibility."

Glenn Roeder, explaining the decision to appoint Joe captain, says: "It was the first opportunity with Di Canio and Lomas injured. He has been playing well recently and when I spoke to him about the added responsibility eyes his lit up and I knew he would carry it off.

"He did very well, and is respected in squad having come through the Academy ranks."