John Pantsil has spoken of his delight for fellow weekend substitute Freddie Sears and pledged to keep plugging away himself for a return to first-team duty at West Ham United.
No one celebrated more on the sidelines than Pantsil when Sears struck the winning goal against Blackburn Rovers and the Ghana defender revealed he had exchanged a few words of support with the youngster while they waited to come on. "In the second half, I was telling Freddie we need to win this game because it is important and he said he was going to fight to do it. After the game, I went to him and said 'Freddie your wish has come true!'
"I was so happy for Freddie. It was his first time in the first time on the bench and in front of the crowd. I know when he plays with the senior team in training he is always doing his best. He is so sharp. I wasn't surprised that he scored. He scores so many goals in the training ground - fantastic goals. I knew this guy was going to make it and I am very happy for the boy."
The Ghana defender's own appearance off the bench against Blackburn was his first run-out in claret and blue at the Boleyn Ground since he played the full 90 minutes against Manchester City back on 5 January. Pantsil had previously enjoyed a run of games before his departure for the Africa Cup of Nations, where he played five matches as the hosts reached the semi-finals. He has not yet been able to force his way back into the starting eleven but is positive another opportunity will come along.
"This is how it works," he said. "If you look at the West Ham team everyone is very good and the manager is doing fantastically well. Everyone has to wait for his chance to come along. I am still on the line, waiting for the chance to come." The 26-year-old has often spoken of his affection for the West Ham United supporters and acknowledges that he also goes out of his way to be a popular person around the training ground.
"Here at West Ham we are like a family so I do everything from my heart and I give everything. When I see something which is funny I try to make fun with the people. Also, my team-mates accept that and they like the way I am. They have said I am a good person." Pantsil's optimism extends to the team's fortunes and he believes the club can still push for a high finish. "The fans are going to keep on cheering us on and I think we can do better than tenth place before the end of the season. The fans have been fantastic."