Jose Fonte made the perfect return to his former team Southampton on Saturday – playing a key role in the heart of the West Ham United defence as they came from behind to triumph 3-1.
Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble were all on target to fire the Hammers up to ninth in the Premier League table and give Fonte his first three points since his switch to east London.
The fact it came back at his old club gave it extra meaning on an afternoon which he admitted was difficult on many levels.
The Portuguese was at St Mary’s for seven years, winning two promotions and becoming a central figure in the club’s rise as an established Premier League side.
But he put that aside in impressive fashion on Saturday and he could not have been happier with the result.
“It was a strange experience coming back to Southampton, “ he admitted. “It was emotional, difficult, but in the end I can say a big thank you to everyone – to the West Ham supporters and my teammates for helping me get through this.
“I managed to block everything [out] and stay focused on the game. The most important thing was achieved, which is the three points and a great performance."
The Hammers showed admirable character to not only bounce back from Wednesday’s heavy defeat to Manchester City, but also from the blow of conceding early on at St Mary's to Manolo Gabbiadini’s strike.
Fonte continued: “It’s never easy [after a result like Wednesday’s against Manchester City]. It wasn’t the start I wanted, we weren’t at the races, but we showed great character and personality to come and play.
“We played some great football, scored three goals and could have scored a couple more. It was a fantastic performance from everyone today and we move on to the next one.
I managed to block everything [out] and stay focused on the game. The most important thing was achieved, which is the three points and a great performance
“The key was to keep trying to play, because we have great footballers in this team. If we play how we can and how we normally do in training, we are going to win many games.
“We stuck to our principles, kept calm, scored the goal and took momentum from there.
“It takes time to slot in and develop a partnership, but Winston Reid is an excellent defender. He has been in the Premier League for many years and has great experience.
“For myself, I’ve felt so welcome and everyone is trying to help me settle in. My teammates have been fantastic and I appreciate [that] from every single one of them.”