West Ham were greeted with a spectacular reception as passionate fans lined the streets of east London to commemorate their remarkable triumph in the Europa Conference League.
The Hammers secured their first significant title since their victory in the 1980 FA Cup, and their first European honor since 1965, defeating Italian side Fiorentina 2-1 in Prague on a memorable Wednesday night.
On a warm and sunny evening in the capital, the jubilant supporters adorned in the iconic claret and blue filled the sidewalks as the Hammers proudly showcased the coveted silverware during an open-top bus parade.
The celebratory journey commenced at the historic Upton Park, the club’s former home, and culminated at Stratford Town Hall, where the team received a warm reception.
This historic occasion evoked memories of the past, as only West Ham fans of a certain age had witnessed such triumphant celebrations.
East London welcomes their European champions ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/JNvympACCR— West Ham United (@WestHam) June 8, 2023
The last time a parade of this nature took place was after the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup victory, where football legends like Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, and Martin Peters experienced the joy of lifting trophies.
However, the younger generation wholeheartedly embraced the festivities, enthusiastically scaling lamp posts and bus stops to gain the best possible view of their revered heroes, while also igniting colorful flares to enhance the vibrant atmosphere.
Initially assuming a more subdued role on the bus, manager David Moyes captured cherished moments by photographing his elated players as they posed together. Yet, his infectious enthusiasm soon took hold, as he joined in with the revelry, dancing and joyously balancing the trophy on his head.
Lifting the trophy appears to be a fitting way for captain Declan Rice to bow out, with chairman David Sullivan confirming the England international will be allowed to leave the club this summer, with a bidding war expected to commence soon.
Rice was emotional on top of the bus, admitting it does not feel “real”.
“This is absolutely incredible, when you’re a kid and you love football as much as I do, and the lads do, you see teams having trophy parades,” he said. “I was once a kid watching teams do trophy parades and now to be doing one and captaining the side is just so, so special, I can’t even put into words.
“We knew it would be exciting and the fans would come out, I am just trying to take it all in, we don’t get to experience this ever. These moments don’t come around very often.
Massive. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/CKzv6Xo2qM— West Ham United (@WestHam) June 8, 2023
“I’ve seen top captains over the years lift trophies and it was my time at West Ham to lift the trophy. It doesn’t really feel real.
“At 24, captain of West Ham lifting a trophy in a European competition, I don’t think it is going to hit me for a while, but I am going to enjoy it and be as happy for as long as possible.
“Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds, I am seeing messages that I am now in that category, I don’t really know what to say. Bizarre.”
Moyes spent much of the season under pressure following a disappointing Premier League campaign, but Rice believes he is now the club’s best-ever manager.
The England midfielder added on Sky Sports News: “I think he goes down as the best manager West Ham have ever had. The circumstances, when he first came in, kept us twice, European competition, we finished fifth, sixth, a semi-final (Europa League) and now we’ve won this, he deserves all the credit he gets.
“He’s a top man and as you can see he is buzzing.”
Jarrod Bowen was West Ham’s hero in the final as he scored a 90th-minute winner, capping off a remarkable turnaround in his career having been playing at non-league Hereford nine years ago after being rejected as a youngster by Aston Villa.
“I love the game and these moments make it all worth it, the rejections and not going the way you want it,” he said.
“You fast forward 10 years and you are on an open-top bus parade for winning a European trophy so from where I have come, my mum was crying on the phone, my dad was there.
“It is a bit surreal to say I have won a European trophy from where I have come from. I love it.”