PREMIER - West Ham, Alese: "It was a bittersweet night"

10.12.2021 08:34 of Claudio Colla   see readings
PREMIER - West Ham, Alese: "It was a bittersweet night"
© photo Giulia Prosperi

Commenting upon West Ham EL defeat suffered by the hands of Dinamo Zagreb, in the game David Moyes decided to mostly line up U23 squad members, English U20 international centre-back Ajibola "Aji" Alese (turning 21 on January 17) told BT Sport:

It’s a little bittersweet. I obviously would have preferred to get a result from the game, whether it be a draw or a win, but playing my first European game was obviously an amazing achievement. To do it with so many other U23s players was great as well. We’ve been playing very well for the U23s this season and we’re all very good friends, so to do it with them was even better.

Last Monday, we found out that we might be involved, but obviously things can change during the week. Then, we found out yesterday that we were definitely starting. Just from then, we had to prepare and get our minds ready for the game. [There were] nerves at first, but then when I thought about it – European debut, maybe 60,000 in the Stadium, live on BT Sport – I got very excited! You have to keep your head down and keep working hard, and try and impress whenever you get a chance to.

I think if I were a shoe size bigger, maybe I would’ve got a goal! I’d say the game’s a lot quicker [than with the U23s]. Maybe if I make one mistake it could end up in a goal, whereas at U23s level, maybe I could make two or three mistakes before it ends up in a goal, so you just have to be that little bit sharper and switched on, and ready at all times.

Nobes [captain Mark Noble], obviously coming through, we all look up to, being an Academy graduate. They [the senior players] helped us through the game”.