Tuesday 25 October 2016

Mark Noble: No ceiling to how big West Ham could become

Published 09/05/2016 | 22:41

Mark Noble is looking forward to a bright future with West Ham
Mark Noble is looking forward to a bright future with West Ham

Mark Noble believes West Ham's switch to the Olympic Stadium could catapult them into the Premier League's elite.

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The Hammers face Manchester United in the final game at Upton Park on Tuesday night before their move a couple of miles up the road to Stratford next season.

Slaven Bilic's side have enjoyed a memorable campaign and remain in the hunt for a place in the Europa League.

But skipper Noble insists the future looks even brighter.

"How big could this club be? I don't think there is a ceiling," said the midfielder.

"Everybody has seen what happened to Manchester City, to Chelsea, over the years. With people in the world these days with a lot of money to burn, anything can happen."

Yet for local lad Noble, the move will still be a wrench.

Upton Park has been part of his life for as long as he can remember; first as a fan, then a ball boy, apprentice, professional and now captain.

And the 29-year-old appreciates the importance of maintaining the club's identity, which extends to a former player, in Bilic, managing them, and lifelong fans David Sullivan and David Gold as joint-chairmen.

"It's very special that the people who own the club are fans, they know what the club is about," he added.

"That has shown this year - everyone is together and we have all pulled together. When the owners are West Ham fans, when the manager has played for the club, me as the captain being a West Ham fan, too, that has shown a lot this year.

"We are leaving a place that I have been coming to for over 20 years, first as a supporter. Every other weekend it's going to be strange to get in my car in the morning and drive to a game, and not down a street I know so well."

So what will Noble miss about the club's - and his - spiritual home the most?

"The 10 seconds before kick-off," he smiled. "When the music plays and whole crowd sings Bubbles. It's probably my favourite part of the day.

"Everything else is stressful. Getting people tickets, the phone calls, press officers. I hate it.

"But seriously, that 10 seconds when they switch the music off and everyone sings Bubbles. You feel free in a way and you can just concentrate on football."

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