West Ham United great Tony Cottee has encouraged his present-day counterparts to ‘savour every moment’ of the remainder of a memorable 2020/21 season.
The Hammers go into their final seven matches sitting fourth in the table, with the opportunity to climb to third with a win at Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon.
Third, of course, was the record-high finish achieved by Cottee and his fellow Boys of ’86 some 35 years ago, when John Lyall’s squad battled for the title with Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton.
Top spot may be out of David Moyes’ men’s reach this term, but the opportunity is there to match the achievements of Cottee and company but only, the lifelong West Ham fan and former England striker says, if they continue to show the qualities that have been key to their recent improvement.
Enjoy every single minute, in training, in matches, when you are sitting with your team-mates at lunch or travelling on the team bus… just savour every moment
“It has obviously been pointed out that this is the best season West Ham are having since the 1985/86 campaign and, as I have said before, it wasn’t until the end of March, early April, that we as a squad really did see ourselves as being in the title race that year,” recalled Cottee, who scored 20 First Division goals in that unforgettable season.
“Now, granted, it isn’t a title race this season but, in the modern-day game, qualifying for the Champions League is a monumental achievement that, for a club like West Ham United, would be up there with the greatest moments in our history.
“And, as someone who has been in a similar position at this Club, my advice to the players ahead of the next eight games would simply be: enjoy it. Enjoy every single minute, in training, in matches, when you are sitting with your team-mates at lunch or travelling on the team bus… just savour every moment.
“Because whatever happens now, it has already been a fantastic season for West Ham. We are not where we are because of luck or good fortune – we are in fourth place after 31 matches, and it’s down to hard work, dedication, and quality.
“Now the players have an opportunity to turn a fantastic season into an unforgettable, historical one. History is so important to every club – for us we think about Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Ron Greenwood and John Lyall – but as a current player you want to create your own history for the Club.
“As these next eight games play out, that opportunity will grow and bring with it other pressures, but if the players can call upon that wonderful team spirit and confidence in each other, then they will hopefully be able to enjoy the experience and rise to the challenge that is in front of them.”