Vladimír Coufal: I’m proud of West Ham United's character and team spirit
For Vladimír Coufal, striding forwards to join a counter-attack deep into injury time, the only development which could have made the evening even better would have been if his low strike had beaten West Bromwich Albion 'keeper Sam Johnstone for a first goal in Claret and Blue.
No matter, however, as West Ham United were at that stage already well on their way to a 3-1 victory at The Hawthorns which would take them onto 62 points – matching the Club’s record Premier League points total with a final game against Southampton yet to come.
Goals from Tomáš Souček, Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio turned around a first-half deficit and put the Irons in a commanding position to secure sixth place in the table and, with it, UEFA Europa League football.
A beaming Coufal spoke to West Ham TV at full-time about his pride in his teammates for the manner in which they fought back to claim such a valuable victory.
Vlad, the job is not a hundred percent finished, but what a performance by the players tonight, with so much resilience on show?
Yes, I agree. It was a really difficult game, right from the warm-up to the end of the game.
During the warm-up Lukasz [Fabianski] got injured, and Darren [Randolph] had to play instead. He did a brilliant job in my opinion, like always.
You miss a penalty in the first two minutes, and it’s difficult after we conceded a goal, but the most important thing I want to say is that we showed brilliant character and we showed brilliant team spirit.
That’s why we’re up in the table now and we have now the same number of points as the best West Ham team in [Premier League] history. I am really proud of every member of our squad and every person at West Ham, because it’s a really big success.
How important was that equalising goal for changing the whole mentality?
Of course, especially when you miss a penalty in the first minute and you could’ve led, but instead you concede a goal.
We were losing, but I think Tomáš wanted to score because he hadn’t scored for a long time! It’s difficult to describe my feelings but I am so, so happy.
Darren came in late on - how important was the save he made in the second half from Semi Ajayi?
Of course, like always, Darren did a brilliant job.
It wasn’t the first time this season Lukasz has got injured during the warm-up, and it’s a very difficult situation for everyone, especially for the goalkeeper.
He did a brilliant job and I have to praise him and everyone has to say ‘thank you’ to him because it was a big save from Ajayi and he maybe saved us in the game.
How much desire did Angelo Ogbonna show in getting his goal?
I am so grateful for Angelo, he scored again and he is very important for us.
He’s like a big rock, yeah? It is almost impossible to defend against him during set pieces. It’s a very strong side.
You had a chance right at the end to make it 4-1 – that would have been the icing on the cake!
Yes, but you know it wasn’t an important goal for 4-1 – it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe I just want to score the most important goal – I’m joking!
I wanted to score, I would like to score, but I don’t know what I could do better to score!
I’ll try to score against Southampton and we will see, but it doesn’t matter who scored tonight – we won and that’s the main thing.
You got to play in front of the West Brom fans tonight, but on Sunday we’re going to get such a great reception from West Ham United’s supporters. How much are you looking forward to Sunday now?
I can’t describe how much I look forward to Sunday’s game. I hope I will play – you never know, something could happen – and in front of the fans it will be brilliant.
Even today I felt unbelievable energy and we were playing away, so I really look forward for our home fans.
To the West Ham fans: see you on Sunday, and thank you for your support!