Being eliminated from a tournament is never ideal, but in West Ham’s case it might be for the greater good. The EFL Cup defeat against Arsenal ended a three-match unbeaten streak, but at the same time it allows them to focus on staying up in the Premier League. Adrián, who kept a clean sheet during the Hammers’ modest run, spoke to Ena Bilobrk about being a Londoner, Joe Hart and his love for West Ham.
When Joe Hart arrived at West Ham in summer 2017, it seemed like a blessing for everyone at the London Stadium – except one person.
Adrián San Miguel del Castillo (or simply Adrián) had to make room for the England keeper and his time as West Ham’s one and only number one came to an end.
“Honestly, it was very hard for me”, Adrián sighed, but there was no time for showing any kind of emotions. He continued: “We are professional footballers and we have to be mentally prepared for those kinds of situations.”
Apart from West Ham, the only club Adrián ever played for was his home team – Real Betis from Seville. He joined the Hammers on a free in 2013 and established himself as a key player under Sam Allardyce.
The Spaniard said: “London is already like my second home. I spent my last five seasons playing here for West Ham and my family and I are really enjoying this cosmopolitan city.”
It is not only the city that makes him feel at home, it is the people – especially the fans:
“I have a special relation to them. They are clearly different class, very passionate and supporting in every moment, in every game home and away game. As a player you really appreciate this. The minimum we can do for them is give everything and fight until the end.”
He went through several managerial changes and shared the pain of generations when the club decided to move into the Olympic Stadium in Stratford:
“Obviously everyone still misses Upton Park”, he admitted. Yet he knows it is now on him and the squad to create new memories at the new ground:
“London Stadium is a massive place with more capacity for our fans. Personally, my biggest challenge is to keep my place in the starting eleven and to give my best for the club.”
It was only a matter of time until new manager David Moyes gave him a chance:
“I assumed it and I had been preparing myself for the opportunity to be back in goal.”
The opportunity came in Manchester. Hart had to sit out his return to the Etihad as part of the loan deal with City, his parent club. This gave Adrián his first start in the Premier League since the end of the 2016/17 season.
Although it ended in a 2-1 defeat, Adrián’s brilliant dives saved the Hammers from further humiliation and Moyes decided to keep the man from Seville in goal.
“He came to the club with clear ideas. He is being honest with players and gives confidence and opportunities to those who train hard and perform every day”, he explained.
It turned out to be a clever move to keep Adrián in goal, as he kept clean sheets in the following fixtures against Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke City.
As a result, West Ham have moved out of the relegation zone and are eager to keep the momentum up. Adrián feels the squad has become closer:
“We are showing in the last few games that we are playing like a solid team, defending really well and attacking quick and sharp. We are in a good run and are showing some consistency, so as a goalkeeper it is really important to gain confidence and as a team to build from that.”
Adrián will have another chance to prove himself on Saturday against Newcastle and it is clear that every moment he plays for West Ham is precious to him:
“West Ham is much more than a simple football club for me. Every time I have the opportunity to play I am grateful. I am wearing this shirt proudly.”
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