West Ham’s unsung hero Pablo Fornals has given a glowing account of club legend and current captain Mark Noble.
The Hammers skipper has been a one-club man since bursting onto the scene all those years ago, and he will bow out at the end of the campaign on a high, bringing the curtain down on a glittering career in the east end of London.
To don the armband as West Ham said goodbye to Upton Park, the Canning Town-born midfielder is firmly etched in Claret and Blue folklore, and he will hang up his boots having led the club through their first-ever Europa League campaign.
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There is no question that Noble is not the player he once was, now comfortable with a bit-part role as David Moyes’ young, industrious squad battle it out in twice a week, but when called upon, the 34-year-old is always there to see the game out and bring some composure to the pitch.
Despite his waning influence on the field, there has certainly been no indication of it waning off the pitch, as Fornals details. When the Spaniard first arrived, West Ham were very much a club in stasis after an interesting first season under Manuel Pellegrini.
However, there was one constant that caught him by surprise when he relocated to E20, the leadership aura of Noble, whom he says made it his duty to help him settle into the club.
Speaking to Marca, Fornals said: “The moment I went to West Ham… I was very shocked by the power that my captain had.
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“He was the first person who spoke to me. I was talking to the captain without even seeing the manager.
“He was the first one who took an interest in me and tried to help me right from the start. You don’t see that very often in Spain.
“Our captain has been playing for the same club for 16 years. He is history. A symbol of the club.”