Kouyate urges Hammers to dream big

Cheikhou Kouyate believes the Hammers are at the beginning of bright new era
West Ham United midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate insists his beloved Hammers have every right to have high hopes as the Club enters arguably one of the most important eras of its history. 

Despite an illustrious history, silverware has proved to be illusive for the Irons of late, save for several promotions. However, with the Club’s move to the new Stadium just a little over 12 months away, the 25-year-old midfielder believes the Hammers are not far from emulating past glories. 

“The club is very ambitious. We want to secure European football for our first year in the new Stadium. Anything can happen in football, you just need to believe. 

“We want to have a good season next year and leave Upton Park in as higher position as possible. We want to make the people happy. The new Stadium is an immense arena, it is perfect for big matches so we need a big season to set ourselves up for that.” 

Since joining the Hammers from Belgian outfit Anderlecht FC last summer, Kouyate has adapted to life in the Premier League remarkably well. His all-action performances as well as never-say-die attitude have helped him to win over fans and players alike. 

Further encouragement, if it were needed, is the fact that the Senegalese international has improved as the season has developed. Kouyate capped off an encouraging debut season in east London by winning the Performance of the Season award for his dominating display against Manchester United in February.   

However, while the larger-than-life character has impressed in his 34 appearances, he is quick to put the collective good of the team over any personal accolades. 

“It’s not very important to be Man of the Match against Everton because we lost the game. I would prefer to have won the match because it was an important game to try and achieve our goal of finishing in the top half. But we lost the game so winning Man of the Match isn’t important to me on this occasion.”
Talking ahead of the Hammers’ final game of the season with an away trip to relegation-threatened Newcastle, Kouyate continued to explain that his teammates are fully focused on trying to finish the season as strongly as possible.  

Sunday’s match will also have a crucial baring on whether the Hammers qualify for the Europa League via the Fair Play League.  

“Our aim is to finish in the top half so we will go to Newcastle, play hard and try to win. We’re not thinking about Hull, Newcastle or anyone else but ourselves.

“Of course, if we are in the Europa League that will change our holiday plans but in football you need to make sacrifices and I’m willing to sacrifice everything. 

“I have experience of playing European football when I was at Anderlecht so I know what it’s like to play in the biggest competition, it gives you goosebumps. Holidays can wait. I know I’ll always pick playing European football over a holiday. Playing in top competitions are what our dreams are made of.”      

While Kouyate is convinced that the Hammers are on course for a bright future, he was keen to stress how much he has enjoyed his debut season while praising the key role manager Sam Allardyce had in persuading him to choose the Hammers over several European heavyweights.    

“I can’t speak for the other players, but the reason I am at West Ham is because of the manager. We don’t know what will happen in the future, but yes, I would like the manager to stay. 

“He gave me the chance to fulfil my dream of playing in the Premier League. If it hadn’t been for him, I would probably be playing in Spain for Valencia. Sam did everything he could to persuade me to come here. He took time out from his holiday and made sacrifices to call me so I am very thankful for that. 

“That personal touch was very important for me. It’s been a dream come true for me and my family. The day I told my father I was coming to West Ham, he cried. It was a defining moment in my career and my life.  

“I love England, I love London, and it’s an amazing City. I really love the atmosphere at the Club. I felt very welcome when I arrived here, it feels like home. That’s thanks to the staff, the fans and the Chairmen. Also the players of course, especially Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Guy Demel, they helped me to settle in a lot.”