'I’m very grateful to all the fans'

Enner Valencia has thanked West Ham United supporters - and his 'Amigo del futbol' Adrian - after winning the Goal of the Season award
Enner Valencia has thanked West Ham United supporters after receiving the Club’s Goal of the Season award for 2014/15.

The South American striker secured the trophy for his unstoppable 25-yard rocket in the 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Hull City in October – one of a plethora of fantastic goals scored by the Hammers this term.

Aided by thousands of votes from a huge legion of fans in his native Ecuador, the No31 also finished third in the Hammer of the Year poll to complete an encouraging first campaign in English football.

“I am very happy that I am finishing my first season with West Ham United,” Valencia, who joined the Club from Mexican side Pachuca following an outstanding 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, told West Ham TV.

“I’m very grateful to all the fans and to everyone who voted for this goal and everyone who gave me their support. I am very happy with this award.”

A humble and modest man off the pitch, the quietly-spoken forward deflected attention away from his own spectacular strike when asked for his memories of that Monday night at the KC Stadium.

“I think this season has been great,” he confirmed. “Like you said, we have scored many good goals, Andy Carroll’s goal against Swansea and Aaron Cresswell’s last goal [against Stoke City] in particular.

“But as I said, I’m very grateful to everyone who voted for my goal.”

Valencia may not have scored the quantity of goals he would have liked, but his non-stop work-rate and all-round play – he set-up Cheikhou Kouyate to win Mark Noble’s match-clinching penalty against Burnley last weekend – have endeared the 25-year-old to the Claret and Blue Army.

Living in London with his wife and two small children, the Ecuador star is learning English and enjoying life 5,700 miles from his home town of San Lorenzo close to the Colombian border.

While the whole squad have helped Valencia to settle, one man who has gone out of his way to welcome the frontman has been goalkeeper and fellow Spanish speaker – and Player Awards winner – Adrian.

“Thank God we came to a great football club because we’re surrounded by amazing people,” he smiled. “They are making us feel at home and we hope that we remain here for a long time.

“Since I arrived at the club, Adrian was one of the people that speak Spanish and the reality is that I struggled to even say ‘Hello’, so I had to be next to someone so I approached him.

“I’ve met an amazing person and as we say, ‘Amigos del futbol’, and he really deserved his Save of the Season award and to finish second for Hammer of the Year.”