Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday May 11 2008
Nigel Hokey-Cokey has stoked the fire slightly before returning to Upton Park this afternoon! In an interview with the Daily Mail .
The former West Ham captain said he had his dream of captaining a Premiership team at the age of 22 ruined as it became obvious the Hammers fans didn't want him.
He said of his return today: 'I don't think I'll get a good reception. At the end of the day, they don't care how I feel and I'm an enemy. I don't blame them. If I was a football fan, I'd have the same way of thinking. But since coming to Villa I've received a lot of letters from West Ham fans writing to congratulate me on my move and thank me for my efforts and everything I did there. That has warmed my heart. I'll take those letters on to the pitch in my mind to block out all the negativity.'
He says of the time at the club the worst was when Curbishley had just come in and he opened some mail saying: 'You n****r, get out of my club, we don't want you here'. Adding, 'When my name was read out before the game (v Manchester United), there were boos. It all escalated from there and I was labelled as a bad apple. How would you feel, at the age of 22, captain of a Premier League club if you got a letter like that and were booed by your own fans? People blatantly didn't want me to be there.'
He also says that Martin O'Neill keeps the players on their toes as they never know what he is thinking! 'You can't really get close to him, but all the players respect him. He's a winner. He doesn't like to lose, nor do any of his backroom staff, and he breeds that into the players.'
Adding that his goal is now to play European football with Villa.
Stiliyan Petrov is also hoping to get Villa back in Europe, telling the official site: 'We have worked very hard all season and now it is down to just one match. We need to produce a big performance to make sure all the hard work has not been wasted. West Ham will want to do well for their fans and this is a tough game. But we have done well in away games this season and hopefully we can get another win to qualify for Europe. We cannot control what goes on at other games so we have to concentrate on our own game. If we win the game then we can look at Everton's result.'
Date:Sunday May 11 2008
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