Declan Rice proud after putting West Ham efforts in context; ‘sure’ there are more European nights to come

Declan Rice is sure that West Ham United will be back after their Europa League semi-final exit to Eintracht Frankfurt, which he felt was “gutting”.

West Ham were dreaming of European glory after a remarkable journey that put them in the last four after wins over the likes of Sevilla and Lyon. However, it was one step too far for David Moyes’ men.

They lost the first leg at the London Stadium 2-1, before their 10 men suffered a 1-0 defeat in the return fixture in Germany.

It means their hopes of silverware are over for the season, but midfielder Declan Rice is proud of all they have accomplished along the way.

rice awning bt sport: “We’re gutted in there. We’ve come so far as a group, given everything this year. We’re not the biggest of squads; to keep playing week in, week out, over 50 games a season after last year…

“Proud as well, you know. To go down to 10 men and put in that shift. Many teams there will go away, lose three and four. The way we still tried to defend and get forward as well with a man less emphasizes everything that West Ham’s about.

“We’ll fight to the end. Gutted but also proud of everyone.”

It is a case of what might have been for a side who had confidence going into their semi-final. Being reduced to 10 men didn’t help – Aaron Cresswell was dismissed within 20 minutes – but Rice believes the club have still exceeded expectations.

He said: “A sending off is always going to make it a mountain to climb. We had genuine belief that over two legs they weren’t going to beat us.

“Of course they’re a good side, but no way they’re better than what Sevilla and Lyon were. Maybe [we] just played a team that kind of played a similar way to us and they caught us out in the end.

“Looking back over the two legs, probably the first goal killed the atmosphere in the first game. It’s always a mountain to climb from there.

“But look, like I said, we’ve come so far. No one expected West Ham to be here. I’m so proud of everyone and the boys went out on a high even though we lost.”

It could have been different; West Ham had more shots on target than Frankfurt in the second leg. However, Rice knew things weren’t quite falling for them.

I have admitted: “Yeah, it didn’t seem to go for us at all. One in the first half cleared off the line, Tomas [Soucek]’s header at the end, we had a few shots. To be fair, other than when they went 1-0 up, they didn’t really have another chance.

“So, bit of an annoying one to concede that one after the sending off because we could have still been in the game. But it’s obviously gutting we couldn’t even get a goal to try and push it back a little bit.”

Tempers flared towards the end of the evening, and although Rice had no complaints about Cresswell’s red card, he felt it was a consequence of other poor decisions.

The England international explained: “I think it’s an overlook of the whole game and the decisions that were made to be honest with you.

“Obviously the sending off was probably a sending off looking back at it. But some of the other decisions were poor tonight. Nothing seemed to go for us. [The] ref seemed to make every decision go for them.

“And in the end, when you’ve got someone who’s against you, you can’t really do much.”

Declan Rice: ‘This club deserves more’

Ultimately, Declan Rice remains proud of West Ham’s efforts. As such, he is backing them to bounce back.

I concluded: “Yeah, 100%. I think me even coming off there, I’ve lost big games, lads in there have lost big games. But I’ve come off with my chest held high, you know.

“We’ve given this such a good go. No one expected us to get past Sevilla. No one expected us to get past Lyon. We had a genuine belief within the camp, within the fans. Even players from round other teams texted us saying, ‘go out there and do it’.

“People really wanted to do it and obviously in the end, it’s a real gutter.

“Now they’re celebrating, I have to listen to that. It’s not nice, but listen, we’ll be back.

“Strong enough to take it. You know, I’m young but I want more, the lads want more, and this club deserves more.

“We’ve shown that as a club we can do these big European games, big European nights, and I’m sure – I’m sure – we’ll be back.”

West Ham are currently seventh in the Premier League, with three games of their season to go. Finishing where they are would put them in the Europa Conference League next season.

READ MORE: David Moyes rues major missed chance after admitting West Ham gap to victorious Frankfurt


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