Welcome to Nigel Reo-Coker's latest entry on whufc.com, as the Hammers skipper presents his exclusive online diary...
Thursday, February 2, 2006
The morning after our win at Arsenal, so the atmosphere at the training ground was obviously buzzing. I was still getting phone-calls and texts from friends congratulating me on my goal and the team's victory, so it was an enjoyable morning. I also brought my bottle of man of the match champagne in for all the lads to sign and they all had a good laugh writing little messages on it. It will now take pride of place in my champagne cellar. Only kidding…I've put it in my store-room at home!
Training was just a little warm-down session - a 20-minute bike-ride and then a massage. Most of the lads were really tired after the previous night's exertions, and with another tough game coming up against Sunderland on Saturday, it was just a case of re-charging our batteries.
After training I bumped into my former Wimbledon manager Stuart Murdoch. He now runs a shirt-framing business and had popped in with a few finished frames that some of the lads had ordered from him. I'd got him to do my signed Pele shirt, and the ones I got from Freddie Ljungberg and Steven Gerrard when we played Arsenal and Liverpool earlier in the season. I didn't get one after our game at Highbury, though, I just wanted to go over and thank our fans at the final whistle.
Friday, February 3, 2006
Our usual match preparation day, consisting of a team meeting before training in the morning and then a light session working on team-play and set-pieces. Most of the lads were still in the recovery process after Wednesday night's game and so it was nothing too strenuous. When you have two games in the space of three days, it's so important that you rest and allow your body to recover in time for the next important match.
After training, it was straight home and an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing again! As a rule, I never do anything the day before a match. We often get asked to do various promotional events and that sort of thing, but I prefer to get as much rest as I can the day before a match.
Saturday, February 4, 2006
A home match for the second Saturday running, so my usual routine of getting up at about 9.30am, buying the papers and then driving to Upton Park for 11.00am. Pre-match meal of chicken and rice, listen to some music, and conserve as much energy as possible.
We knew the game against Sunderland was going to be tough. A few people were probably expecting us to slip up after beating Arsenal on Wednesday, so we knew we had to stay focused and do a professional job.
I was a bit disappointed to have missed out on a good chance early on, when Stephen Wright fouled me after I'd run with the ball from my own penalty area. Once I nicked the ball past him, I thought I might be in on goal, but he wasn't going to let me get past. There was nothing I could do about it, which was so frustrating, but thankfully the day turned out okay for us in the end. The sending-off probably made it slightly harder for us, because they just defended for a draw, but it was great to see Deano pop up with his first goal, and Paul Konchesky was obviously delighted to score the second, too.
After the game, a lot of the lads went out to let our hair down after a tough week. I went for a meal at Scalini's in Knightsbridge as it was my friend's birthday. We then went on to a club after that and it was an enjoyable night - good to let our hair down after another great win.
Sunday, February 5, 2006
A day off, so I got to have a nice lie-in, and then did my usual 20-minute recovery run around lunchtime. In the evening, I met with up with a few of the lads and some other friends for another social gathering. After a really tough week and some great results, it doesn't hurt to enjoy yourself when there is some rest time ahead, and with the team spirit so fantastic at the moment, it's important to keep that bubbling along.
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Monday, February 6, 2006
With no game until next Monday night, the gaffer gave us another day off as the training schedule will obviously be different this week. In the afternoon, I drove to visit my aunt, who lives at Elephant and Castle. She cooked me a lovely meal of Jollof rice and chicken - a traditional African dish, and it was nice to see her again. On the way home, I stopped off at my agent's office in Sutton to sort out some paperwork and sign a few bits, before getting back for an evening in front of the TV, relaxing ahead of a returning to training tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
After a couple of days off, we eased back into training and had a straight-forward session. The squad split into two groups, with the attacking players doing shooting practice. There was me, Bobby, Teddy, Marlon, Dean Ashton and Katan. I wasn't too bad, but the best finisher of the morning was Teddy.
I also did an interview for the Independent newspaper, talking about the season so far and how things have gone for me since I joined West Ham. I do read the quality, broadsheet newspapers, and their coverage of the game is a lot more considered and thoughtful than the tabloids. It does make me laugh when I see some of the player ratings in the tabloid papers after matches - sometimes you wonder if the reporters were actually at the game. I think after the Sunderland game I got a nine in one of the Sunday papers, then a six in a different one the next day!
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
We had quite a tough training session today - football in the morning, playing seven-a-side at a high tempo, and then followed that with a weights and core strength session. We didn't finish until around 1.30pm, so it was a long morning, but I don't mind the fitness work and at this stage of the season it's just really about maintaining your levels.
After training, we had a Spanish lunch to give a proper welcome to our new signing, Lionel Scaloni. Our chef Tim prepared paella and wrote a few Spanish phrases on the menu board, just to make him feel a bit more at home. I think Lionel appreciated it, and he has settled in well since arriving here. The lads are all impressed with his character and personality, and there's no doubt about his quality on the pitch.
Later on, it was nice to see some comments in the press from Anton, saying that I should be in the England squad for the World Cup. That was very kind of him, but I'm not thinking about it too much because it's something that is out of my hands. I suppose I should return the favour to Anton, but there isn't really any need, because he knows what I think of him, and I think everyone else can see what a top class central defender he has become. Hopefully, a call-up to the full England squad won't be far away for either of us.
In the evening, I was due to go to a nightclub opening that was organised by a friend of mine, but I felt too tired after our tough training session, so I stayed in and watched The Godfather III on DVD instead!
Thursday, February 9, 2006
A change of scenery this morning, as training took place at the Reebok Sports Centre at Canary Wharf. It was a fairly light session and, after a quick workout, we had a basketball tournament. My team - which consisted of me, Marlon, Anton, Bobby and Hayden - got to the final, but unfortunately we lost, against Yossi Benayoun's team. Yossi, by the way, was voted MVP - Most Valuable Player. He was excellent, but then basketball is apparently quite big in Israel!
After training, we heard the sad news that one of the Club's former managers, Ron Greenwood, had died. Obviously I didn't know Mr Greenwood, and had never met him, but older members of staff here have told me all about the success he led West Ham United to in the 60s, and it's clear that he is one of the greatest figures in our history. Let's hope we can pay tribute to his memory with a stylish performance and another victory against Birmingham on Monday night.
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