Pablo Fornals hails 'best way to finish a season'
Pablo Fornals could scarcely conceal his delight at helping West Ham United seal European football with a brace in the final-day 3-0 win over Southampton.
The Spaniard helped settle his team’s early nerves with two clinically taken goals midway through the first half, setting them on course to seal three points which break the Club record for the highest total attained in a Premier League season, now standing at 65.
Moreover, the result secured the Hammers sixth spot in the final 2020/21 Premier League table and, with it, qualification for next year’s UEFA Europa League group stages.
“It’s amazing being in the European spot, and being the best West Ham team in Premier League history in terms of points,” Fornals visibly beamed at full-time.
“After this hard year, and a hard time for everyone [with the pandemic], doing it with our fans back at the stadium I think is the best way to finish a long season.
“I can’t describe it. I’m really excited. That’s why I came here: to play in big games and to try to play big games in Europe, because this is a great Club with this big atmosphere.
“We deserve it and I think we’ve been rewarded; we’ve worked really hard to get it.”
The brace capped a special few days for Fornals and his fiancée, who earlier this week announced that she is pregnant with their first child.
The No18’s ecstatic reaction – and fitting celebration – to putting the Irons ahead, slotting home from close range after Jarrod Bowen had seen his low shot spilled by Alex McCarthy – summed up the feelings of all 10,000 supporters returning to London Stadium.
That the Spaniard could add a second, converting Vladimir Coufal’s low pull-back, was merely the icing on the cake, before Declan Rice’s clincher late on.
Referring to the noise which greeted his first goal, Fornals said: “I think it was the roar of all these people. I think it was a roar of every one of them [West Ham fans].
“A few days ago I said to the world I was going to become a parent with my girlfriend, so for me, this week has been unbelievable.
“This season I’ve played left wing-back, left winger, right winger, midfielder, No10 and sometimes as a striker. This is what I love doing – playing football. It doesn’t matter where, I just want to help my teammates.
“When big things like today happen it is amazing for me, my family and all the team.
“It was a tough game, but today we can say that, next season, we’re going to be in the Europa League. That’s why there was that emotion in the celebration: for this big Club, on this big day.”