There’s no doubt now that football’s once swiss army knife has become a club legend.
Michail Antonio, who only got converted to a full-time striker at the end of the 2019/2020 season, now has 50 league goals to his name, the most any West Ham player has scored in the Premier League, and he has spoken about his desire to add many more.
To celebrate this distinctive accomplishment and rise to the top, it seemed only fitting to me to take a trip back memory lane and look at Michail’s most iconic moments as a Hammer.
I’ll start with the goal that put our new number nine at the top of West Ham’s Premier League goal-scoring charts – against Leicester on August 23.
In fact, this game not only hosted one of his most iconic goals but two. The first goal came from a Delcan Rice pass into the box where Antonio held off the defence, twisted around the opposition, and blasted it past Kasper Schmeichel.
A delightful view, but his second goal of the match was even better. Coufal once more sent a cross into the box, where Antonio flawlessly flicked the ball over the defense before sliding it home to solidify the night.
Next up for me, has to be Antonio’s heroics against Manchester City in October last year.
With the score deadlocked at 0-0, something needed to happen to spark a Hammers chance.
That spark came from Vladimir Coufal, who sent up a prayer into the box. Michail Antonio was on the receiving end of the cross, but he was facing the wrong direction.
It appeared that the play was dead, but Antonio had other plans. He backed into Ruebn Dias and overpowered him to strike in a powerful overhead kick.
Not his most influential goal, but definitely one of his best.
Could there be any better way to open up the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium than to be the first team to win there? The answer to that is no, and clearly, Michail Antonio had the same thought in mind in April 2019.
Heading into this match, Spurs were doing quite well in their new home, and West Ham was on the opposite end of that success.
After a scoreless first half, West Ham kept looking more and more poised to score.
Marko Arnautović made a run down the right side and found Antonio once more headed towards the box.
Michail took the ball off his chest, calmly controlled it, and fired it past Higo Lloris. The goal broke Tottenham’s hearts, but his celebration drove home the overwhelming theme of the day.
Now after a significant closing of one home, Michail Antonio was ready to open his account once more in our new home in August 2016.
Just like now, West Ham fans weren’t entirely sold on the London Stadium as they opened the 2016/17 season at home against Bournemouth. The Cherries were down to 10-men, but the Hammers couldn’t break through.
With 15-minutes left in the match, Gokhan Tore slashed in a tasty cross towards the box. The recipient on the other end of the cross, Michail Antonio.
Antonio slipped past the defence to the back post in his now trademark move and quickly put it home.
If May 10, 2016 doesn’t first stand out to you as an important date, it was the final match ever played at the Boleyn Ground.
After a massive first half, West Ham quickly went behind 20-minutes into the second half.
The man who gave Antonio a shot earlier on in the season due to injuries, Dimitri Payet, flicked the ball across the box and into the leaping head of Antonio.
The image frozen in time, the moment and aftermath that his goal started still gives me a chill to this day.
Winston Reid gets the credit for sealing the victory, but that goal may never have come without Antonio’s antics.
From the start of his West Ham career until now, things haven’t always been pretty.
Injuries and setbacks could have easily dwarfed his career, but he continued to press on.
When Moyes converted him to a striker, many weren’t convinced.
However, reading over this list and looking back on his career has taught me one thing, Michail Antonio is most assuredly now a natural striker.
He has taken his wild antics of flair and fire and worked that into a more methodical strategy to the game. Flair and fire are still there; it just looks better.