Randolph ready for familiar foes

  • Darren Randolph helped Hammers to defeat NK Domzale in London Stadium opener
  • Irish stopper ready for the visit of Juventus to Stratford on Sunday
  • Goalkeeper faced many of Juve's stars at Euro 2016 just a few weeks ago

Darren Randolph will not need much introduction to many of the Juventus players he comes face-to-face with on Sunday afternoon.

The West Ham United goalkeeper lined up against no fewer than four Juve stars in Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Stefano Sturaro, Simone Zaza – and Hammers teammate Angelo Ogbonna – when Republic of Ireland upset Italy at Euro 2016 on 22 June.

Four days later, Randolph was back between the sticks as the Boys in Green came up just short against a France side including the Serie A champions’ Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba, as well as West Ham’s Dimitri Payet.

“We’re playing against some of the players I came up against just a couple of months ago!” he confirmed. “It’s a team full of top European players and it’s a big game and another great occasion for us in front of another packed house.

“I don’t know if I’ll be playing, as I was concentrating on Thursday’s game and just getting through [against NK Domzale], but we were back in training on Friday and will start looking forward to it,” he said.

“I think everyone looks forward to these last friendly matches when you play against the bigger teams. It’s why everyone wants to play football, to play in these games against top players continuing on from the summer.”

Darren Randolph denies Italy's Juventus striker Simone Zaza at Euro 2016

Reflecting on Thursday’s victory over NK Domzale, Randolph was delighted to play his part as West Ham overcame a potential banana skin to defeat the Slovenians.

The 4-2 aggregate success took the Hammers through to a UEFA Europa League Play-off round clash with Astra Giurgiu – the Romanian side which knocked Randolph and the Hammers out of the same competition a year ago.

“It was the perfect start with three goals and a win and a clean sheet – you can’t ask for much more than that from the first game at the new Stadium,” Randolph said. “We knew we’d have to keep tight defensively to be in with a chance and we did that.

“Two-nil is a dangerous scoreline as if they had scored it would have been level in the tie and we might have got nervy. As it was, we had a lot of chances and it could have been five or six in the end.”

It has been a good week for the 29-year-old, who signed a new long-term contract with the Club on Sunday before kicking-off the new campaign with a flawless display against Domzale.

For Randolph, the future is bright for everyone in Claret and Blue.

“If you want to look to push forward as a Club, then you have to move stadiums or make your stadium bigger and I think, with how we performed and where we finished last year with the players we have managed to get in, we want to be playing in front of big crowds in big stadiums,” he concluded. “That will lure more big names to the Club and that can only be a positive.

“Part of the reason why I wanted to stay is because we have a good group of lads and are moving into a new Stadium and a new training ground and it’s exciting.

“If we continue to perform like we did last year, who knows? Another finish near the top of the table finish and European football is what everybody wants.”