Freddie Ljungberg has paid tribute to Freddie Sears after his show-stopping goalscoring debut at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.
"He is a West Ham boy and to score on his debut is great," the Sweden midfielder said. "I am really, really pleased for him. Everybody is, to be honest. If he had missed that first chance, it may have got to him and his confidence may have gone down but he kept going and got the rebound, which was great. Hopefully his confidence will be really high. It is a dream come true."
When asked about the youngster's ability and the extra dimension he looks set to bring to the West Ham United attack, Ljungberg answered with a knowing smile. "He is a small player - he has to be able to play with his feet!" On Saturday, as demonstrated by the all-important winner five minutes from time, the 18-year-old was fearless in linking up with his more illustrious team-mates in front of an expectant full house that was craving an instant impact.
For Ljungberg, it is all about convincing young players to believe in themselves and he accepts the responsibility as one of the club's senior professionals of passing on his experience. "Of course I talk to the young players, that is what has to be done. If you want to be in the team, you have to deserve to be in the team and if you do play, you should know that you are good enough. You should have no fear, otherwise there is no point. I think he showed that!"
After three successive defeats, Ljungberg paid tribute to the character shown by the whole side - not just in bouncing back from that run but also from coping with adversity within the game itself. "It was nice to win after what happened in the last couple of weeks," he said. "We were one-nil down as well and still showed some character. We scored some goals. Blackburn are a big physical team and that makes it hard sometimes but we got the ball down and we could play some football."