Declan Rice: Chelsea win was for the fans
Declan Rice was a proud, proud West Ham United captain after leading the Hammers to a thrilling 3-2 Premier League victory over Chelsea.
The Irons had a goal disallowed by VAR, fell behind, levelled on the stroke of half-time, went ahead, were pegged back and snatched all three points through substitute Andriy Yarmolenko’s 89th-minute winner.
And Rice, who was released by Chelsea as a 13-year-old schoolboy and deputising for injured skipper Mark Noble, could not contain his delight at getting one over his old club.
Look, tonight was a big three points for the fans and for the manager
“Mate, what a buzz!” he smiled. “The only thing I could say is I wish the fans were here to witness that. We know it hasn’t been good enough as a team recently but tonight we showed the fans we do care, we do work hard and we have got quality and everything tonight emphasised what we are all about – grit, desire, hard work – and there wasn’t one of the lads who didn’t give everything. It’s a deserved three points.
“It’s special. Obviously Nobes wasn’t available tonight so the manager gave [the captaincy] to me. Without Nobes’s guidance I wouldn’t be able to put on the armband, really, and obviously the manager giving me his trust in a big derby game was special. I’ve been taking and learning bits from Nobes and watching the big leaders over the years and trying to put bits into my game and push the team on with little words of encouragement – ‘Keep going! Keep working hard! It’s coming!’ – and that really lifts someone.
“I want to keep helping the team as much as possible. I want to help the team get out of this position. No-one wants to be in it and if we play like we did tonight we’ll be just fine.”
Rice admitted manager David Moyes was not happy with his team’s first-half performance, and the players were determined to ensure they avoided another dressing down with an improved display after the break.
“We said at half-time: ‘Look, we’ve got to come out here and start this second half like we mean business’ and the first ten minutes when we got the goal, we meant business!” he smiled. “We looked good. he goal Mick scored, the passing, the move we put together for it was unbelievable.
“Then some tired legs, my mistake giving away the free-kick and Willian puts it in the top bins and you’re thinking: ‘Oh no, what’s going on here?’ but thankfully Mick had a little bit left in the thank and slip it to Yarma and he produced a bit of magic.
“To score that and see the lads and the manager and the coaching staff, they deserved it because they put so much effort in every day, thinking football 24/7, and they care for this team. Look, tonight was a big three points for the fans and for the manager.
“For me, the fans have been unbelievable for me and for the team. I think every one of them would be really proud and wouldn’t be sleeping and I’m delighted we’ve been able to give them three points because they haven’t been able to see us win for a while, so tonight’s for the fans.”
Wednesday’s win completed a Premier League double over Frank Lampard’s side and took West Ham up to 16th with six games to play.
Next up Sunday afternoon is a trip to Newcastle United, where Rice has experienced the full range of emotions during his short career.
“I won a trophy there with the 23s, got dragged at half-time by [Slaven] Bilic for a mistake, then we won the next game there 3-0,” he recalled. “They’re in great form but our tails are up, the confidence is back and we’re raring to go.
“I’m buzzing. I’m fortunate to have played every minute, I’m feeling fit, feeling healthy and injury-free, touch wood, so we’re ready to go up there and give it another good go.”