Gianluca Scamacca was happy to be back in the starting XI and on the scoresheet for West Ham United.
The Italy international, who has been included in his country’s squad for their opening UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers with England and Malta, marked his return to David Moyes’ team with the first goal in a 4-0 UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 second-leg win over AEK Larnaca on Thursday night.
Scamacca, who has struggled with injuries and a debilitating virus in recent months after a bright start to his career in Claret and Blue, had already gone close once before he collected Manuel Lanzini’s pass and fired low into the Cypriots’ net from about ten yards.
The No7, making his first start since scoring in the 2-2 Premier League draw at Leeds United on 4 January, was also involved in West Ham’s second on Thursday night, when his initial shot was parried into the path of scorer Jarrod Bowen.
The 24-year-old’s 55-minute appearance will have not only boosted his own confidence, and those of his teammates, his manager and his coaches in his undoubted ability.
Speaking to West Ham TV, Scamacca himself was proud and pleased to end a difficult time with an influential performance he will now hope to build on, first for his country and then for his Club after the March international break.
“I was out for a long time with an injury and it was so stressful that I could not help my team, but now I’m fit and I’m very happy,” he began.
“The first shot was really close, and I had two of three chances, but it was an important win and to pass to the next round. It was absolutely important for me and for the team [for me to score] and also for me to play minutes and I feel better.
“The fans were amazing, like every time. They sent me a lot of messages, so I felt the love and I really appreciate it.”
Scamacca arrived in east London last July at the age of 23 after just two seasons in Italy’s Serie A with Genoa and Sassuolo and, while he spoke English, it was always going to take time for the forward to settle into life in a new city, a new country, at a new club in a new league.
After a bright start, injuries and illness struck during and just after the mid-season break, but he is hopeful they are now behind him and he can get back to doing what he does best – scoring goals.
“Injuries can happen because every season is different and this league is different from where I have come,” he observed. “It was unlucky, but now it’s good and we’ll keep going.
“I feel good, I’m happy to be here and play for this Club and live in London, so everything is good.”
West Ham have drawn Belgian Pro League side KAA Gent in the UECL quarter-finals and harbour realistic hopes of lifting the trophy in June, while there is also a Premier League relegation battle to be won.
The 6’5 striker is confident of finishing his debut season in England as it started, with him scoring and his team winning.
“We have to keep working, stick together and we’re looking forward,” Scamacca concluded. “We are all players who can become heroes and we have to help each other with our confidence and finish the season really positively for us.”