Declan Rice says West Ham United are targeting a maiden Carabao Cup triumph after overcoming Tottenham Hotspur on the ‘best night’ of his life.
The teenager returned to the starting XI at Wembley Stadium and helped the Hammers recover from two goals down at half-time to win 3-2 and set up a quarter-final tie at Arsenal.
Rice could hardly contain his delight at playing his part in a night that will live long in the memories of everyone associated with the Club.
“Being my first game at Wembley, after coming here to watch as a fan many, many times, to get onto the pitch and beat Tottenham was an amazing moment for me,” he said.
“After the first half, most people thought we were down and out, but we had a big get-together at half-time in the changing room and second half we came out and showed what we’re about.
“I’ve never been part of something like this before. I can’t stop smiling. It’s the best night of my life!”
Arsenal will host the Hammers in the fifth round in the week before Christmas and Rice sees no reason why Slaven Bilic’s side cannot complete a north London double.
But before that, there is the not insignificant matter of Saturday’s Premier League fixture at bottom side Crystal Palace.
“We’re into the quarter-finals now and that makes Wednesday’s result even more important. We said at the start of the season that we wanted to have a really good cup run and we’ve had three good results now and it is Arsenal up next.
“We’re really confident, especially after beating a top side like Spurs. We watched them against Liverpool on Sunday and they were frightening, but we stopped that and everyone was unbelievable.
“Without a doubt, now we’ve beaten Spurs, it’ll give us confidence going into a big game at Crystal Palace on Saturday because the camp is buzzing.”
Reflecting on the personal experience of facing a top team at the Home of Football, the 18-year-old was proud, not only of the way West Ham came back, but defended their lead in the closing stages.
“It was kind of one of those games where you think to yourself ‘There are fans here, people are watching, we’re Premier League footballers and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves, so we’ve got to come out and show what we’re really all about’, and in the second half that’s what we did.
“We had us three (Rice, Cheikhou Kouyate and Angelo Ogbonna) and Andy [Carroll] dropping in at times at the end. I’ve never experienced anything like that, with Premier League stars on top of me.
“It was amazing to be marking those types of players, taking in how they move. It was a great experience for me.”