Mark Noble is more concerned about West Ham qualifying for Europe than receiving an emotional send-off in his final home game for the club this weekend.
The 35-year-old will call time on his playing career when the dust settles on 2021-2022. The midfield stalwart has been the proverbial one-club man, save for loan spells at Hull City and Luton Town early in his career. He has made 548 appearances in all competitions for the Hammers, scoring 62 goals.
But the former England Under-21 star will hang up his boots after West Ham’s final game of the season at Brighton on May 22. Before then, David Moyes’ side entertain title-chasing Manchester City on Sunday.
The London Stadium clash will be Noble’s last chance to turn out in front of his adoring home fans. It seems inevitable that the man from Canning Town will get some minutes on the pitch.
But, true to his nickname Mr West Ham, Noble has put reaching Europe above any personal ambitions.
“I’m not bothered at all [if I play or not],” he told the club’s official website. “I’ve already spoken about it with the manager. For me, the club getting into Europe and the Europa League outweighs a sentimental see-off for me.
“Obviously, I’m going to get a great reception, I know that, and maybe if I get some minutes, great, but I’ve played enough games in my life to not need the football.
“I think the occasion, needing points really – we’re playing against one of the best teams in the world – we need to think about worrying about getting the points, instead of worrying about me.”
Team spirit key for Noble
West Ham have enjoyed a couple of superb campaigns since the return of Moyes to the club. They finished sixth last season to qualify for the Europa League.
And they were only one game away from reaching the final of Europe’s second-tier competition. Eintracht Frankfurt proved too good in the semi-final but it seems certain they will be in Europe once again next term.
Noble will not be part of next season’s journey but will be an interested spectator. And the man with 470 league appearances for the Hammers has revealed the secret to their recent success.
“To be honest, we’ve become really close in the last two-and-a-half seasons because we’ve had a tight-knit squad,” he added.
“We haven’t had the biggest squad in the world, but we’ve had a group of players who have worked hard for each other and had some amazing experiences with each other, and go out every weekend and play for West Ham. That’s all we ask for.
“I think that’s why we’ve been quite successful in the last two seasons. Not only me, but we’ve got fantastic characters and leaders in the dressing room who have pulled the club through.”