Following their final-day draw against Aston Villa, West Ham United captain Mark Noble hailed the efforts of his manager and teammates since the Premier League restart.
The Irons went into the season finale assured of their place in next season’s top-flight, having sealed it mathematically with an excellent 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
With the Villans still embroiled in their own relegation battle, however, the Hammers were forced to dig deep to claim a battling draw in east London, Andriy Yarmolenko’s deflected strike cancelling out Jack Grealish’s opener with just five minutes left to play.
The result meant that West Ham concluded their campaign with no shortage of positive momentum, just one defeat in their last seven fixtures reflecting some impressive displays since professional football returned from an enforced break last month.
We’ve had some really good performances. It’s been a tough season, and with everything that’s gone on, as we all know… but to come back and play and finish the season the way we have is a credit to all the players
Noble, who during that run celebrated a landmark 500 appearances for his boyhood Club, spoke after the final whistle of his pride in his fellow Irons for the way they regrouped during the break and came back fighting with everything they had.
“To be honest it made me a little bit emotional reading what the ex-pros and the Chairmen said about me,” Noble smiled.
“As you see, you come into a game like this with no fans, and it’s always tough to give yourself that bit of a motivation to go out there and play, but I thought we did that.
“It was nice last week, getting survival against Watford in my 500th game, but I’m more even proud of the players for the way they’ve come back after the lockdown.
“We’ve had some really good performances. It’s been a tough season, and with everything that’s gone on, as we all know… but to come back and play and finish the season the way we have is a credit to all the players.”
West Ham ultimately finished their campaign in 16th place, with the draw against Aston Villa – after an afternoon of twists and turns in the table – also securing the visitors’ place in next season’s Premier League.
Noble added on their achievement: “It was a tough one going into the game, but you could see on the pitch how much this game meant to them. I think you could see that we tried to win the game.
“They scored a good goal through Jack Grealish, and then we scored a goal right away. I think Michy [Antonio] missed a chance early doors, but we got ourselves in a position in the last two games really against Manchester United and Aston Villa where we were already safe – not mathematically, but we were safe.
“One defeat in seven I think that is now for us. We’ve ended the season strongly.”