‘I’ve never had so many people asking me for tickets!’: Former West Ham star Joe Cole SLAMS their 5,000 Europa Conference League final allocation – and urges players to ‘keep grounded’ ahead of biggest game in 43 years
- Joe Cole reckons Fortuna Arena is too small to accommodate travelling fans
- West Ham face in-form Fiorentina in Wednesday’s Conference League final
- David Moyes’ men looking to claim the second European trophy in club’s history
Joe Cole has blasted UEFA’s decision to stage the Europa Conference League final at the Fortuna Arena in Prague.
The Hammers take on Serie A side Fiorentina on Wednesday night in the club’s first European final since 1976’s Cup Winner’s Cup defeat to Anderlecht.
And the BT Sport pundit, who played 182 times for the club across two spells, revealed he has never experienced so many requests from eager fans clamouring to get a hold of tickets for the big day, with the stadium holding just 19,370.
‘I think [Prague] is going to be like East London,’ Cole told Mail Sport. ‘I really do.
‘In all my career, with the games I played for West ham, Chelsea and England, I don’t think I’ve ever been more inundated with tickets requests.
Joe Cole has criticised the decision to hold the Conference League final at the Fortuna Arena
West Ham sealed their place in the final with an impressive second-leg 2-1 win at AZ Alkmaar
Fiorentina’s Arthur Cabral (right) is the competitions joint-top scorer with seven goals
‘I want to help people but there’s only 5,000 [tickets] for West Ham fans which is absurd.
‘You feel for the fans in that, because it’s the biggest game in the club’s recent history and they can’t get there. It’s a real boo boo by UEFA.’
West Ham head into Wednesday showpiece looking to emulate the exploits of their historic 1965 team, which included Bobby Moore, that secured the European Cup Winners’ Cup at Wembley.
The Hammers face a potent Fiorentina outfit who are the competition’s top-scorers with 36 goals, nine more than their English opponents. That tally is aided by the joint-best record of forward Arthur Cabral who’s netted seven times for the side.
Nevertheless, Cole believes West Ham will still shade the encounter because of their overall quality and earmarked the mouth-watering midfielder duel between Declan Rice and Manchester United target Sofyan Amrabat as key to the final’s outcome.
Cole also urged David Moyes’ men to remain calm in the days leading up to the massive encounter.
‘The crucial thing for West Ham is that the senior players get round the rest of the lads and keep them grounded,’ he added.
‘Sometimes cup finals can be lost in the days leading up to it. How are the manager’s mannerism? Is anyone looking different? Are we approaching it differently?
Cole expects Sofyan Amrabat’s head-to-head with Declan Rice to decide Wednesday’s final
The game could mark the final appearance for Rice in a West Ham with interest from Arsenal
‘Everything about the final will try to make it different. There’s more media, you might be going to other stadiums.
‘Or there might be people driving you mad for more tickets. You just get a sense the game’s bigger.
‘There’s more time to think about it, so you’ve got to keep yourself grounded and think about things you can control.
‘Players who can keep their head and keep focused on that, they’re the ones who tend to be able to do it in the big games.’
BT Sport is the exclusive home of the UEFA Europa Conference League Final. Watch West Ham United v Fiorentina exclusively live on BT Sport 1 on Wednesday 7th June from 6:30pm. The final is also available for anyone to watch on the BT Sport website, YouTube channel and app
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