Vaz Te relishing Premier rebound

Andy Sims

WEST Ham's Wembley matchwinner Ricardo Vaz Te is determined to make the most of his second chance.

The Portuguese winger was on the football scrapheap two years ago after being released by Bolton following three injury-hit seasons.

The 25-year-old had unhappy spells with Panionios in Greece and SPL side Hibernian before pitching up in Barnsley, where Hammers boss Sam Allardyce plucked him from in January.

And that £500,000 punt looks like a bargain after Vaz Te's dramatic late play-off final winner sank Blackpool 2-1 and earned West Ham the estimated £90million promotion to the Premier League brings.

"I feel I have been blessed with a second chance in my career and I'm cherishing it," said Vaz Te.

"The Premier League is another big step, a challenge. We must go there with the mentality that we are a Premier League side, not fighting for relegation.

"We are going to go there and give it our best."

The Hammers were pre-season favourites for automatic promotion but missed out on the final day of the campaign to Reading and Southampton and had to go up the hard way.

Carlton Cole fired them ahead in the first half but Thomas Ince, son of former Hammer Paul, dragged Blackpool level just after the interval.

Vaz Te then struck with three minutes remaining when he tucked away the rebound after Cole's effort was blocked to ensure West Ham bounced back from relegation at the first attempt.

Mark Noble was the sole survivor from the last Hammers squad to make it through the play-offs at the Millennium Stadium seven years ago.

And the homegrown midfielder lapped up his side's first Wembley triumph since Trevor Brooking's header secured an FA Cup win over Arsenal in 1980.

"This is very special," he said. "We put the fans through it and we put ourselves through it, but it's all worth it."