'It's onwards and upwards'

Joe Cole has enjoyed and endured every emotion as a footballer.

From inspiring West Ham United to win the FA Youth Cup as a teenager through suffering relegation with the Hammers to winning Premier League titles with Chelsea and scoring for England at the FIFA World Cup finals, the 31-year-old has seen it all.

On Monday, he again went through the full range of emotions, putting West Ham 2-1 up against Tottenham Hotspur, only for Andre Villas-Boas' men to pull off a dramatic victory through late goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and man-of-the-moment Gareth Bale.

"It's horrible - the worst thing about being a footballer," said the No26. "We worked so hard so to get nothing out of the game was horrible.

"It was heartening and nice to see Jussi Jaaskelainen have a great game, but we worked so hard. They are a top side and have gone third in the league now, so it's disappointing."

Cole struck his second goal since returning to the club in January with a smart turn and shot on 58 minutes, completing a turn-around after Andy Carroll's penalty had cancelled out Bale's early opener. However, substitute Sigurdsson scrambled the ball home with 14 minutes to go before Bale stole the show with a rasping, unstoppable 30-yarder that not even an inspired Jaaskelainen could keep out.

"It was a big derby and a big game, so just a sickener not to get the result in the end. It's onwards and upwards. We have got to stick together and take the positives out of the performance.

"Like I said, our 'keeper was fantastic for us and we looked strong at times. You can't help the goal from Bale - it's world-class and he is in that kind of form at the moment.

"He could be up there with the best players in the Premier League's history. He has still got some work to do, but he has certainly got the potential to be up there with the [Cristiano] Ronaldos and the [Thierry] Henrys that this country has seen. He is great to watch, but he's a nightmare to play against, unfortunately."

As one of the senior players in the Hammers dressing room, Cole is now conscious of the need for the squad to retain their focus and belief after such a late body-blow on Monday evening - especially ahead of a trip to a Stoke City side just three points above them in the table.

"I think we need to go to Stoke and go for the win, but it's important to go there and not to get beaten. We certainly can do that and it won't be for a lack of togetherness if we don't. We need a little bit more quality and patience in the build-up and we should be alright, but it's going to be a tough game up there, that's for sure. It'll certainly be a lot different from Monday night.

"It's just a case of us needing to put our chances away. On Monday, when Matty went through he could have made it 3-1 and we'd have expected to win the game then. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. We've got to stick together. We've got a lot of experienced players and we should be alright."

Finally, despite the ultimate disappointment of defeat, Cole lauded the atmosphere created on a night when the club honoured the memory of the late Bobby Moore OBE, who passed away 20 years ago last Sunday.

"Upton Park under the lights is special. It's great. It's blinding. I've played in all the best stadia in the world but when this place is rocking like that, it's something else. I enjoyed the game, but I didn't enjoy the result."