Rice: It was special to get three points for Billy Bonds
Declan Rice has dedicated the win and three points secured against Newcastle United to Billy Bonds, after the West Ham United legend was honoured ahead of Saturday's Premier League fixture.
The four-time Hammer of the Year was recognised ahead of the match with the East Stand renamed the Billy Bonds Stand, and the Irons ensured the occasion was memorable on the pitch too with a deserved 2-0 victory over the Magpies.
Rice scored the first goal of the game, netting his second of the season with a headed effort on seven minutes, and the 20-year-old says the entire day was special; for the fans, for the players, and for Bonds himself.
I know everything that Billy Bonds did for the club. It was a special day, and to get the three points for him was even more special.
"I hadn't met Billy before," Rice said, "I just shook his hand before the match and said 'it's a great occasion, and lovely to meet you'. It was great to hear the fans singing Billy Bonds' name today.
"I know everything that he did for the club. It was a special day, and to get the three points for him was even more special.
"It's nice to get on the scoresheet again, and from a header. It was a massive goal. It's good to make up for the one I missed against Liverpool the other week. I think it gave the lads a boost."
Fellow Academy graduate Mark Noble secured the win for the home side from the penalty spot, and Rice hailed the midfielder's talent from 12 yards as well as the team's attitude and desire from the opening whistle.
He continued: "Noble's penalty was spot on. I don't know why I get so nervous when Noble steps up to take penalties! He's been taking them his whole life. He stuck it in the top corner. It was special.
"I think we deserved the win. Newcastle have been in some great form recently so we knew we had to be on our game, and we said that. We had to treat this game like as a final. I think you saw that in the first half. We were out of the box quick. We got an early goal and we kept pushing. We played some lovely football at times. Manu and Felipe played some beautiful football.
"We knew the second half would be tough but we were resiliant and we defended well. We got the three points which is the main thing."
Saturday's result means West Ham are unbeaten in the last five home league matches, and keeps the Irons in the chase for seventh place and a shot at European football next season.
Rice knows how important the results at London Stadium are for the side and is eager for that form to continue throughout the remainder of the sason.
"Our London Stadium form is really important," he added. "We've really made it tough at time for teams to come here and play. We've played really well, especially against some top six sides.
"These are the games, at home, where we should be winning. We've got the fans behind us. It's important we keep pushing."