Pablo Fornals

Fornals: It’s a massive opportunity

This is the stage on which West Ham United belong.

That is the message Pablo Fornals is hoping he and his teammates can deliver at Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium on Thursday evening, as the Irons take on their first-ever UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.

The assignment is a tricky one, away to record six-time winners Sevilla in the first leg - but Fornals feels he and his teammates can rise to the task.

On his return to his native country, the Spain international spoke at the pre-match press conference that he feels this is a game where the Hammers will prove exactly what they are capable of.

Seville is a really, really nice place to come back to, and to show our level as well against one of the best teams in this competition. 

It's a massive opportunity to show how good we are.

Sevilla won the Europa League six times in 15 years, but it's going to be the first time for us [West Ham playing in a European knockout tie] since 41 years ago. 

I think the motivation we have to be here, and that all the lads have had since we found out who we were going to play against, is massive.

Fornals playing in the Europa League for West Ham

You can see how English teams have been very good in Europe.

We play against the best teams right now in Europe. We go face-to-face with them. Depending on which team we’re playing against, we have many different ways to play. 

Obviously, we’re going to be thinking about how Sevilla are going to play, but they'll have to think about how we're going to play as well.

This is not just tomorrow's game. We also have to play the second leg at home. 

It's not a game of 90 minutes, it's going to be a 180-minute game, so we have to be clever and think about that as well.

Playing against Sevilla for Málaga and Villarreal, they were always tough games. 

It’s not just now – Sevilla has been tough to face since a long time ago. 

They always have very good players. From my time at Málaga and also Villarreal, playing against Sevilla was very hard.

Pablo Fornals

Since I arrived here, for our Club, Declan Rice has been one of the standouts of this team.

We also have Nobes [Mark Noble], Michy [Michail Antonio], a lot of top players... Having all of them here – just missing Jarrod [Bowen] – I think is massive for us.

I am happy with what I’ve achieved playing at wing-back recently. 

From that position, I’ve created good chances for the team, so for me, I always say the same: I want to play and try to work really hard, because I want to be on the pitch every game day.

When the gaffer [David Moyes] first came in, we were in a really bad position, but I think he has created a group of lads with the desire to win and to improve – every one of us. 

What we do when we play against bigger teams than us is play as a group, as a family, for one another.

Moyes gave me confidence and chances to be on the pitch. Obviously, the lads helped me as well, because it doesn't matter how well I play if nobody helps to achieve our goals. 

It’s not just my thing, it’s a thing for every one of us, each day training and making us improve.

Pablo Fornals and David Moyes

The skipper [Mark Noble] talked with me from the same day I signed my contract at West Ham. 

I was playing in the UEFA European U21 Championships and he was texting me. We were in touch and he was really trying to make me feel like my new family were coming to support me.

I don't know how my chant started! 

Obviously, I don’t think the song keeps going, because we're not going to Vienna anymore, but it was really funny and I was really proud when I saw my fanbase singing a song for me.