Jack Collison has spoken for the first time about the "incredible" support he has received from West Ham United fans following the death of his father.
The Welsh international midfielder bravely asked to play in the Carling Cup tie against Millwall on Tuesday night despite losing his dad 48 hours earlier in a tragic road accident on Sunday. Such was the emotion at the end of the 3-1 win, Collison remained on the pitch for five minutes to applaud the supporters for giving him the strength to play.
Collison, who had members of his family watching as he played the full 120 minutes, was clearly overcome and was consoled by team-mates and backroom staff, with first-team coach Steve Clarke accompanying him back to the dressing room. Still only 20, Collison has been widely praised by all sections of the media for his courage and commitment.
Speaking to whufc.com, he said: "I just want to thank our fans for their tremendous support at what is such a difficult time for me and my family. It was incredible. It is something I will never ever forget and I will be trying my best to repay them on the pitch in all our matches."
West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola was full of praise for his young midfielder. "He told me straight away that he wanted to play," he said. "He wanted to be here and I just decided that he had to play. He made himself available. He showed what kind of boy he is. Not many would have done that."