Ogbonna - The secret is the group

Angelo Ogbonna says team spirit has played a huge part in West Ham United's unbeaten run of seven matches
Angelo Ogbonna has played in some big matches for club and country.

The defender won league titles and cup finals with Juventus and travelled to Euro 2012 with Italy, and is now playing his part in West Ham United’s impressive 2015/16 campaign.

Now, the 27-year-old is thoroughly enjoying his new experience of helping the Hammers make a sustained challenge for a place in the Barclays Premier League’s top six – continuing with a 2-0 win over Liverpool.

The Cassino-born defender was at his imperious best as West Ham completed a historic ‘double’ over the Reds on Saturday, helping central defensive colleague James Collins to shackle Belgium forward Christian Benteke.

With Slaven Bilic’s side now back in the top six and important players returning from injury after a difficult period, the experienced Ogbonna has hailed the spirit within the West Ham squad.

“This was a great result and a really good game, because we have taken six points at home in no time and we are very happy,” he smiled. “It was a really good clean sheet for me and for Ginge, who was the Man of the Match, and for the whole team. We prepared really well for this game, so we’re really grateful.

“It was a 100 per cent a team performance. Everybody was really good in every situation – strikers, midfielders, wingers, defenders – for 90 minutes, nobody rested and we scored two fantastic goals.

“I told you before, the secret of this team is the group. Our group is really fantastic and that’s why we fight, we prepare everything and we are focused on everything. We have to enjoy this game and this three points.”
Ogbonna has played alongside some uncompromising defenders in his time, including former Juventus and Italy teammate Giorgio Chiellini, but what does he make of his new partner in crime – the in-form Wales rock Collins?

“Ginger has real fire!” the No21 observed. “His temper is really hard and really warm, not just as a player but as a character. He can show us what he wants, because he is so emotional.”

“We have a lot of good defenders who are really good in the air and in the tackle and everything, not just Ginge but Tomo and Reidy too.”

Back-to-back home wins and a seven-match unbeaten run mean West Ham start 2016 with real optimism, but Ogbonna is experienced enough to know there is a long way to go before the Hammers have achieved what they want to this season.

“We are just one match into the second part (of the Premier League fixture list) so we have to stay with our feet on the ground,” he explained. “We will take things step by step.”