Angelo Ogbonna: We did well but we've not finished yet
West Ham United defender Angelo Ogbonna was pleased to mark five years as a Hammer with a clean sheet in the 4-0 win over Norwich on Saturday afternoon.
The hugely popular Italian, who joined the Club from Juventus in July 2015 after winning back-to-back Serie A titles with the ‘Old Lady’, was rock-solid on his Irons anniversary.
The No21’s authoritative showing alongside Issa Diop laid the foundations for a fellow summer of 2015 signing, Michail Antonio, to grab all four goals in a virtuoso display at Carrow Road.
With only three games left to go, the result kept West Ham on course to stay outside the Premier League drop zone – but the experienced Ogbonna has urged his teammates to keep their feet on the ground and keep pushing to the point where survival is confirmed.
“It was really important to win today,” Ogbonna told West Ham TV after the game. “We did a job but it’s not finished yet. We need to win the next game, but this is important for me.
“Not only the guys on the pitch, but the guys from the whole of the Club, wanted this. We have been through a lot I think: after this coronavirus [pandemic and season suspension], it wasn’t easy to get back and stay in shape, and for me, I got injured, and then I came back. I think it would be really good to be safe as soon as we can.”
After the Hammers created numerous opportunities in their previous game without being able to make the breakthrough, Ogbonna and his defensive colleagues understood the importance of keeping a clean sheet on Saturday, playing their part in a brilliant team performance.
I’m really happy for Michail because he’s doing a great job. He’s helping us, running behind the defence, and he really deserves it as a person and as a player.
“We worked for the clean sheet,” he explained.
“As I said, I think we could have been safe a long time ago, but then we had the coronavirus pandemic, and for us it was totally difficult to come back. But the team’s spirit and shape were totally different, even today. I think the team reacted really, really well.”
Ogbonna was also delighted for Antonio, whose four-goal haul was West Ham United’s first such occasion in the Premier League era.
“What a day! Four goals!” he smiled. “I’m really happy for him because he’s doing a great job. He’s helping us, running behind the defence, and he really deserves it as a person and as a player.
“I know him really well, he’s a humble person and I think he really deserves it. When you see humble people and a nice person like that, I think he deserved that.”
Typically diligent and focused, Ogbonna admitted that he won’t be celebrating his landmark five years in Claret and Blue until the Club’s Premier League status is sorted, with three games of the campaign to go.
He said: “That’s nice - five years! The next year is the Club’s 125th anniversary, so it is better to stay up so we can celebrate that.
“I think it’s sad playing behind closed doors, but we’re doing it for the fans. It would not be good to play without fans and then give them Championship football, so we are doing the best we can to stay up.”