West Ham centre back Angelo Ogbonna is wary Tottenham will be out for revenge this weekend on his 200th appearance for the Hammers
Image: Arfa Griffiths)
Angelo Ogbonna says West Ham are determined to do another Italian job on Tottenham.
Ogbonna played in one of the great derbies last season when West Ham came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at White Hart Lane thanks to Manuel Lanzini’s last gasp equaliser.
Italy defender Ogbonna also scored the winner against Tottenham at Wembley in 2017 when West Ham again came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and he says that shows just how much Spurs games mean to the players.
“They thought the game was over,” said Ogbonna recalling last season’s comeback. “I’ve seen their faces. But they didn’t know about West Ham. The new West Ham! I think it’s part of the West Ham character. I always say that the team here makes me proud.
“The moment we are struggling, we are fighting, we survive. All Italians are like that. When Italians struggle, we survive. It’s the best moment. We knew it. We knew we could come back.
“Sometimes football is unpredictable. We want to do something more against Tottenham. Every fan can feel that. We are looking forward to it.
“I remember the game at Wembley. We went 2-0 down. Slaven Bilic was on the line but everyone was behind him and wanted to do something for him. I think it was the best goal I’ve scored for West Ham.
“But Lanzini’s goal was… last minute. No-one expected that, top corner and I was the one who had blocked Winks from scoring. Now Tottenham is a new environment. They will want revenge because they lost in our stadium as well and they will want to show they are different.
“Now we will have to show what we’ve been fighting for. West Ham fans create the most amazing atmosphere. When we play we don’t play with 11 players, we have a 12th player and this is a special game.”
Ogbonna is into his seventh season at West Ham, will play his 200th game for the club on Sunday – and even joked that it has felt like 500 at times but now they are enjoying the “prize” for everything they have been through.
The Covid lockdown, having no fans and relegation battles before David Moyes helped turn things around but he also stressed that every single person at the club has “stepped up.”
Ogbonna said: “As a footballer, you want to play for the best team, right? Having competition in my place has pushed me forward, improved me and all of the best teams have that. As a kid, you grow up wanting to play for the best team, play in front of fans and winning things.
“As a player, you don’t think about money. Money is a consequence. But being successful is most important. I like to do things step by step. When things are harder, it’s more achievable.
“That’s why I say it feels like I’ve played even 500 games! It’s the pressure we put on ourselves. The demands we set. It’s a positive. I want to do something important, leave a legacy for my son, for my daughter and set an example for them.”
Ogbonna has formed a strong partnership with Kurt Zouma after his summer move from Chelsea and the defence has given West Ham a strong foundation.
Ogbonna clearly enjoys a strong relationship with David Moyes but also credits his former assistant Alan Irvine with a light bulb moment.
He added: “When the manager came in, his assistant Alan Irvine showed me a video of Phil Jagielka. They used to work at Everton and he wanted me to do more. He showed me two or three clips, controlling the line. I really appreciated that moment.
“When you have someone who trusts you. Don’t take things in a bad way, a player can take things in a bad way, but I enjoyed the responsibility. In that moment, something changed, a switch. I saw it as a positive.
“The Premier League is more demanding. If you don’t prepare yourself then you will struggle. I’m so proud to get to this age is so tough. I would like to be a little bit younger! But I have to say that this is my best football of my career.
“The last two years has been very, very tough for everyone at the club. I’ve really enjoyed it, we’ll see if there will be more and of course I would like more.”