Declan Rice was thrilled to give the West Ham United supporters a day to remember with Sunday’s derby day victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
West Ham memorably secured four points against Spurs last season – coming from 3-0 down to draw at Tottenham Hotspur before winning 2-1 at home – but fans were unable to attend either game due to the COVID-19 lockdowns.
But with 60,000 back inside London Stadium for this encounter, Rice and his Hammers teammates were determined to ensure it would be the home fans who went home happy.
Michail Antonio’s 72nd minute winner, converting an Aaron Cresswell corner from close range, ensured they would do just that.
“It’s unbelievable, a special day,” Rice said. “We know what a tough fixture this is, and we haven’t had the fans in for a while for a Spurs game, so to win today meant the place was rocking. It was really special out there.
“We said before the game that we really wanted to press them, get up to the ball and try to make them kick it long, but I thought they played some really good football to be fair and we had to show a different side to our game.
“But when we got the ball back we looked a threat, and then to get the goal from another set piece like we did and hold out was special.”
Sunday’s game was well contested, if not a classic, and Rice believes the resilience shown by his side in a game like this shows exactly how far they have progressed in the last 18 months.
“We’ve completely transformed the way we are, as players, as people and that’s down to the manager,” he continued.
“It’s down to the players buying in to what he wants and every time we go out there, even if we’ve got beaten, we come off the pitch knowing we’ve given everything.
“We’re always in it to the end and we’re sat fourth in the table and we want to keep looking forward. We are a top side – we’re proving that in Europe and we’re proving that in the Premier League.”