‘This is why we will sell-out the new Stadium’

Diego Poyet says a sold-out UEFA Europa League first qualifying round tie illustrates the sheer size of West Ham United
Diego Poyet says a sold-out UEFA UEFA Europa League first qualifying round tie against Andorran side FC Lusitans illustrates the sheer size of West Ham United.

Despite the visitors being virtual unknowns until the draw was made and bringing just a handful of fans themselves, the Claret and Blue Army have snapped up nearly 35,000 tickets for the game.

Midfielder Poyet, who has been named in Terry Westley’s starting XI for the match, believes the loyalty and commitment shown by West Ham fans ensures they will sell-out the Club’s new 54,000-seater stadium in Stratford a year from now.

“It says a lot about the type of fans we have at the Club,” he told West Ham TV, who will be screening Thursday’s tie exclusive, live and FREE coverage on whufc.com. “I have watched a lot of Europa League games last season in the main competition and they weren’t even sold out, and we’ve got our first qualifier and it’s already sold out. Massive thanks to all the fans for coming to support us.

“It shows that the new Stadium is going to be sold out every week. Some people were saying ‘maybe it will, maybe it won’t’ but 100 per cent it will sell-out. It’s 2 July and we are filling up the stadium and it’s already been sold-out for a couple of days.

“It’s great support for everyone and makes the game ten times more exciting for all the players and for everyone involved and it’s a great game to be part of.”

For Poyet himself, the game represents an opportunity to impress those 35,000 fans inside the Boleyn Ground and thousands more watching on whufc.com around the world, while new manager Slaven Bilic will be observing from the stands.

After impressing for Uruguay at the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup finals in New Zealand, the 20-year-old holding midfielder is keen to kick-on again for the Hammers.

“I’m really excited for the game,” he confirmed. “I obviously had a really short break on holiday because of the Under-20 World Cup, but I feel good.

“We’re already prepared for the game and we know as much as we can know about the opposition and we’re ready.”

So, what does Diego and his teammates know about FC Lusitans, who finished second in Andorra’s Primera Divisio last season.

“I think they will be really organised and try to keep it as tight as possible,” he explained, revealing that the squad has watched footage of their opponents in action. “They are good from set-pieces, so that’s something we will have to watch out for when we play them.

“They are not going to be intimidated by us, but the only thing that might intimidate them is the big crowd. They have got some international players, but others might not be so used to playing in such a big crowd, so we will use that to our advantage.

“We have home advantage in the first leg and obviously want to take a good score when we go there next week.”

*You can catch Diego’s West Ham TV interview in full in the build-up to tonight’s tie from 7.30pm, with exclusive, live and FREE coverage of the game on whufc.com.