West Ham fell short in their pursuit of reaching the clubs’ first European final in 46 years last night as they were beaten 1-0 away at Eintracht Frankfurt, losing the tie 3-1 on aggregate.
So it won’t be the fairy-tale ending that most Hammers fans were anticipating for the end of their campaign.
A solid season that has seen the east London club challenge for major European qualification and likely secure a spot in the Europa Conference League, could have got the icing on the cake had they overcome Frankfurt and set-up a mouthwatering all British final with Glasgow Rangers.
But it wasn’t to be. A 2-1 loss at the London Stadium in the first leg put them on the backfoot from the get-go, and Aaron Cresswell’s early red card in the second game left the Irons fighting one handed as they bid to overturn the deficit.
It was a disappointing effort and the frustration was so apparent that David Moyes even got sent off for volleying a football angrily in the direction of a ball boy in the 78th minute.
One man who did keep his head, though, was Czech international Vladimir Coufal.
Upon the final whistle, the Frankfurt fans – who have been absent from a European final themselves since 1980 – couldn’t contain their excitement as hundreds of the home support swarmed onto the pitch.
Video: Eintracht Frankfurt fans swarm the pitch
Frankfurt fans celebrating on the pitch after reaching their first European final in 42 years from soccer
Incredible scenes, what an atmosphere!
Unless, of course, you were a West Ham player. From their perspective, the sight of hundreds of pumped-up Germans charging across the pitch as if they were going into battle must have seemed rather intimidating – especially after the two red cards they had already received that game which may have stoked the fire amongst the fan base.
Most West Ham players were understandably keen to get off the pitch here. So it was quite striking to see Vladimir Coufal calmly walking through the white shirts, towards the away fans and away from the tunnel. It was the walk of a man who knows how to handle himself, if required https://t.co/dZSugCyWgD— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) May 5, 2022
Most of the Hammers quickly made their way back to the safety of the dressing room before any of the fans could reach them.
Although, not Coufal, he didn’t even seem phased…
The notoriously no-nonsense right-back simply stood and applauded the away fans as the madness raged on around him.
We don’t know what it is with European full-backs, but from Coufal to Sead Kolasinac, they seem totally fearless.
When asked after the game whether or not he was frightened by the pitch invasion at the Deutsche Bank Park, Coufal simply said:
“I wasn’t scared. If a fan attacks me it would be their problem not mine.”
Coufal on pitch invasion: "I wasn't scared. If a fan attacks me it would be their problem not mine." #WHUFC— Roshane Thomas (@RoshaneSport) May 5, 2022
And we don’t doubt it Vladimir, it most definitely would be…