Friday 13 Mar
Updated Friday 13 Mar 23:00
First Team

Professional Guy

Guy Demel has waited patiently for his next opportunity to shine for West Ham United
It has been a challenging season for West Ham United’s experienced right-back Guy Demel, but you will not hear the veteran Ivory Coast defender complaining.

A consummate professional on and off the pitch, the likeable, intelligent, multi-lingual Demel has instead kept his head down to ensure he is fit and ready should opportunities arise.

Approaching the end of his fourth season with the Hammers, the 33-year-old has been restricted to just eight first-team appearances this term due to the presence and form of Arsenal loanee Carl Jenkinson.

This Saturday, Jenkinson will be unavailable for the trip to the Emirates, giving Demel the possibility of playing for the first time since appearing as a substitute at Liverpool on 31 January.

Should he be handed that chance, the Orsay-born defender is looking forward to performing at the club he called home for the 2000/01 season.

“This is the first time in my career that I haven’t really played and I’m not really involved on the game-day, but it’s helped me to learn about myself,” Demel began. “Because it’s easy to be happy when you are in the team, but I am happy with myself because I have not really changed.

“I don’t like to talk about myself too much, but I think I have been the same guy in training and then the Gaffer has made his decision.

“To be fair, we had a great start to the season and I was in it, then I got injured and Carl got his chance and he is doing well. He’s the younger generation, he’s a good player, so there is nothing I can really complain about.”

It is testament to Demel’s mature approach that he has knuckled down and maintained his role as an important squad member, pushing his colleagues every day on the training pitch.

“Of course I still play my part. I would like to be on the pitch on a regular basis, but we have to work hard every day because the starting XI need good competition and good training during the week. It’s the same for all the players.

“I am part of it and we all train well. I would say we always have a good mentality and that’s exactly the reason why we managed to produce when we were in a bad situation last season.

“Now, like I said, I am here if I’m needed and I will always give my best. Obviously it’s really hard, because every player wants to play, and I’m fit and ready.”
I think this season the team has shown we can play good football against the big teams, so I hope we’re going to take that with us and get a point at least
Demel was brought to English football by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as a 19-year-old, but did not appear for the Gunners before moving on to German club Borussia Dortmund after a single season.

While he was only in north London for a short time, the full-back still keeps a close eye on his old club’s fortunes. Demel has noticed a slight change in style from Arsenal this season – a change he says they have had to make to compete at the top end of an ultra-competitive Barclays Premier League.

“Arsenal’s mentality is to win games and to produce good football – they will never stop playing their football, even if this season we have seen them adopt a more direct approach.

“The league has changed and every team is hard to beat, so you have to adapt and be intelligent. Arsenal’s season has been great and I think they are one of the best teams in England, if not the world.

“That said, we are proud to be West Ham United and we have to get a point or a win because we’ve been a bit unlucky and have deserved more than we have achieved in the last couple of months.

“I think this season the team has shown we can play good football against the big teams, so I hope we’re going to take that with us and get a point at least.

“Against Manchester United and even against Chelsea, we could have won the games, so we will go to Arsenal and we need to produce the same performance as we did at Tottenham, but with a better finish at the end.”

Looking further forward, Demel has been invited to return to another of his former clubs, Hamburger SV, to take part in David Jarolim’s testimonial match on Saturday 28 March.

But what does the long-term future hold for the man who joined West Ham in the summer of 2011?

“I’m 33 and I have played in different leagues in my career, I still feel good and as long as my body responds well I will keep playing. I have a lot to give and I don’t want to finish my career.

“I’ve had an amazing time here at West Ham so it doesn’t matter what happens because I will always keep West Ham in my heart.”