Last home game a 'perfect day' says West Ham's Noble
- Credit: PA
Mark Noble admitted his last home game with West Ham United was a 'perfect day' as they held Manchester City to a 2-2 draw to ensure European football next season.
Noble was a picture of emotion before kick-off at London Stadium, where Jarrod Bowen's first-half brace put the Hammers on top.
And although Jack Grealish replied, with Vladimir Coufal's own goal squaring matters, Noble came off the bench to make his 549th appearance for the club and saw Lukasz Fabianski save a late Riyad Mahrez penalty.
The 35-year-old from Canning Town was then honoured in a special post-match ceremony and told whufc.com: "I tried to keep it together at first, but the emotion got the better of me. It was a fantastic send-off from the fans.
"They are a very special team, so to go two goals up against them - we didn’t have a lot of the ball, but we had two counter-attacks and scored two goals through two fantastic finishes from Jarrod.
"Kev [Nolan] came out to me at half-time and said ‘The Gaffer is going to need you at about 70 minutes’ and thank you to Łukasz for a fantastic penalty save at the end because it made the day that bit more special.
"It’s been a long lead-up to this day because I announced that this would be my last season a year ago but forget about me, what a season this has been for West Ham!
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"All in all, it was a perfect day and one I could enjoy with my family before going around the pitch to say ‘Thank you’ for the home support this year and then we look forward to next week."
Although a place in the Europa Conference League is assured, West Ham can still secure a return to the Europa League - having reached the semi-finals this season - if they win at Brighton on Sunday and Manchester United lose against Crystal Palace.
But whichever competition they end up in next term, it will be without stalwart Noble, who says he will remain their biggest supporter.
"We have rejuvenated the whole football club this year, so we look forward to next season," he added.
"To be honest, I’ve sort of got my head around it now and very rarely at this level of football do you get to make your own exit, but I’ve been lucky enough to do that, so it’s the right time to go and spend time with my family.
"I’ll always be West Ham and the club have made it clear to me that they want me to stay, but I am definitely going to have a holiday and then see what happens in the future.”
Declan Rice echoed those sentiments, saying: "I’ll probably be upset when he’s actually gone as well, but just to see his family, his beautiful kids, his beautiful wife - it was really, really special.
"We’re going to have European nights again next year.
"We want it to be the Europa League, and that’s no disrespect to the Conference League – we just want it to be Europa after we’ve had a taste of that.
"Let’s be positive and wait and see, but if we play like we did today against Brighton & Hove Albion next week, we’ll be alright."