Across the board, Euro ‘2020’ was worth the wait when it came to watching our mighty Irons as they represented their countries.
It was a strong tournament for West Ham United, and it wasn’t just up to Declan Rice to fly the flag for the claret and blue.
Czech mates Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal put in tremendous performances for the Czech Republic.
Andriy Yarmolenko absolutely shone in yellow and blue for the Ukraine, and dare we suggest Poland might have migrated their way out of the group stages had they put more faith in one Lukasz Fabianski?
Starting from the bottom, Fabianski’s Poland finished bottom of their group with no wins, one draw, and two losses.
Although first-choice Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is certainly a talented player, it can’t have been fun for Fabianski to be sat on the bench while watching Szczesny score a howler of an own goal for Slovakia – the first in the tournament for a goalkeeper.
It was much better news when it came to our Czech and Ukrainian countrymen.
The hard work and skill from Soucek, Coufal and Yarmolenko was evident to see on the pitch as they took their respective teams into the quarter-final round of Euro 2020 – and by July 1st, West Ham had more of their players remaining in the tournament than Real Madrid did.
When it comes to individual performances, our European Hammers did us proud – and the stats prove it.
The players were willing to put in work and literally go the distance to get results. Out of all the players in the tournament, Soucek, Coufal and Yarmolenko found themselves in the top 30 players for distance covered (20th, 22nd and 28th, respectively).
Soucek and Coufal continued their impressive display of fitness with both players playing 450 minutes of the tournament (the most minutes possible for Czech players) – a particularly impressive feat given we saw Soucek take a very painful boot to the face and play on with a mess of gauze and prayer holding his bleeding head together.
As well as providing reliable defending, Coufal also contributed well going forward, matching Yarmolenko’s total of two assists.
Coufal was immense in interceptions also, with 35 balls recovered; the 10th highest figure in the tournament – but teammate Soucek also found himself high up on a less positive list, that of the most fouls committed at the tournament (8).
Yarmolenko also had stats to back his strong showing at the tournament and the form that’s been eluding him of late in east London. He played 445 minutes out of a possible 480 for Ukraine.
His two tournament goals kept him in good company with fellow two goal tally-ers and tournament winners Insigne and Immobile – as did his aforementioned two assists, making him a very valuable team player.
He was a different gravy for his country than he’d been for his club in the post-injury seasons, with many Hammers fans having written him off after his injury.
But this tournament gave him a chance to shine again as an enigmatic and hard-working player who really did have an excellent tournament. He, like Soucek, did fall foul of a good disciplinary record with five fouls and a yellow card to his name.
Seeing our players soar was good for fans who haven’t had much to sing about prior to 2021.
Far from being a tournament where we coveted the players of other teams, it was a tournament where West Ham fans had the chance to be immensely proud of the star performances of a number of their own players who truly went the distance during the tournament.
That so many players had such a strong tournament suggests a turning of tides at West Ham.
We know we have one of the smallest squads in the Premier League – and our chances of finding 11 bodies to pop on the pitch for some matches seems wafer thin at times – but the calibre of the players we do have is impressive.
Other teams are taking notice, and while you don’t want them to pay too much attention and start to snap up our stars, it’s a nice feeling to be proud of what ‘our’ boys are achieving.
A huge round of applause to all of them – and let’s continue that applause as they return to the pitch in claret and blue, hopefully continuing the tremendous form they showed to the world in the Euros.