European Conference League Football Final: ACF Fiorentina – West Ham United, June 7, 2023, Prague. Vladimír Coufal from West Ham with the cup for the winner of the competition.
Prague – According to defender Vladimír Coufal, the West Ham footballers became club legends thanks to their 2:1 victory over Fiorentina in the final of the European Conference League in Prague's Eden. The “Hammers” won the second European trophy in their history and the first in 58 years, and for the first time they will play cups for the third season in a row. The Czech international was looking forward to returning to London, where he and the team were waiting for a ride on an open bus. In a slight exaggeration, he stated that his next career goal is to win the European Championships next year in Germany.
“As all the fans said after the match, we became legends. West Ham won after a long time, for which we are very happy. We will enjoy it for a long time,” said Coufal in an interview with Czech journalists, who described winning the trophy as the greatest moment of his career.
Thanks to the triumph, the Londoners secured participation in the Europa League for next season, where they reached the semi-finals last year. “We are in Europe for the third time in a row, which is an all-time record for West Ham. I wouldn't call it a failed season. We finished fourteenth in the Premier League, we saved ourselves, which was then the goal, we won Europe. We don't care about anything else,” said Coufal .
“I'm enjoying it and I'm going to continue to enjoy it. I'm really looking forward to bringing the trophy to London and showing it off on an open-top bus ride. It's going to be amazing and I'd like to invite every West Ham fan to come along and support us to see a beautiful trophy,” said the thirty-year-old representative.
The venue of the final was all the more special for him and his teammate Tomáš Souček, as he went to West Ham less than three years ago from Slavia, which is based in Eden. “I always feel at home in Eden. We had a home cabin, I know the pitch, I felt great here. The important thing is that we managed it. We wanted to go as far as possible in the cup,” said the former Opava and Liberec player.
Jarrod Bowen scored the winning goal for the “Hammers” in the 90th minute. “I believed we would score a goal in the last minutes. We are used to playing in the Premier League until the referee blows the whistle. We are good at this. It is best to score a goal like this at the end of time when they don't have much time to respond. Fiorentina were more football , but we won and that's what the final is about. Whoever wins will go down in history,” said Coufal.
He always set career goals step by step. “First it was to play in the league, then win it, move abroad and win something there. We succeeded,” Coufal said. He is clear about his next target. “Advance to the Euro with a youngster and win it,” added the three-time league champion with Slavia with a smile.
The biggest success of his career and a fairy tale, I cried, Souček said after the final
Midfielder Tomáš Souček, even a few hours after the match, still could not believe that he and the West Ham footballers dominated the European Conference League in Prague's Eden, where he played for Slavia for many years before leaving for the London club. The 28-year-old captain of the Czech national team called the 2:1 victory in the final over Fiorentina and winning his first trophy in UEFA competitions the biggest success in his career and a fairy tale for life. He admitted that he couldn't help but shed tears of emotion during the celebrations at the famous stadium.
“Definitely the achievement of my life so far. I won the title with Slavia, we played cups, the Champions League, some successes in the Premier League, but this is the best achievement in my career. It was definitely the hardest game of my career and at the same time the biggest achievement. So this is medals at most,” Souček told journalists.
He called winning the European trophy at the Slavia stadium, where he is a pupil, a dream come true. “I'm enjoying it. It's here in Eden, it's all great. I tell myself it's like a fairy tale. I was at Slavia for 15 years, now I've been at West Ham for almost four years and everything has come together. We made the title here, we lifted the cup. I probably still can't believe how it all came together. It's another dream that has come true and a fairy tale that I will live for the rest of my life,” declared Souček.
He felt at home during the match. “It was amazing because we had the north tribune (where Slavia's cauldron is located), our Slavist dressing room. At the same time, instead of red and white jerseys, we had orange and white jerseys. It came together a lot. I felt very comfortable, like at home, and I believe I showed it even on the field,” said Souček, who in the end even with the score 1:1 reached two ends and at the same time ran the most kilometers of all the finalists.
“The important thing is that we were able to win. That's what it's all about is. We won every match except for one draw in the entire competition, so I think we deservedly lifted the trophy,” added the former player of Liberec and Žižkov.
He was able to enjoy the victory in the competition all the more because in the final West Ham started with him in the starting line-up of fellow countryman and also former famous defender Vladimír Coufal. Fiorentina's colors are defended by another Czech midfielder, Antonín Barák, who came on as a substitute player in the setup. they didn't believe it themselves. It's amazing that we came back here together, managed it together here again, won and could lift the trophy here. We have many photos and unforgettable experiences together,” declared Souček.
Directly on he also enjoyed an emotional celebration with his family on the lawn. “I had the closest people here, family, friends. I tried to find tickets, even if it was difficult. I'm glad that I was able to invite them to the field because they still support me. They cried, I cried. It was it's very emotional, I'll remember it for a very long time,” said Souček.
Co-owner of West Ham and owner of Sparta Daniel Křetínský also celebrated in the Eden auditorium, who was at the Slavist rival's stadium for the very first time. “I haven't seen Mr. Křetínský yet. I hope he also enjoyed it and saw the best stadium in the Czech Republic,” joked Souček.