West Ham captain Mark Noble dreaming of ‘amazing’ Europa League triumph to end 18-year playing career

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mark Noble is dreaming of ending his playing career on an unimaginable high as West Ham bid to reach the Europa League Final.

All eyes are on Thursday night as the Hammers host Eintracht Frankfurt in their first European semi-final since 1976.

The German side, who are ninth in the Bundesliga but knocked out Barcelona in the quarters, visit London for the first leg of their last-four tie this week with tickets having sold out in record time.

It is quite the farewell for Noble, who will retire next month at the end of his 18th season at West Ham.

Having experienced relegations, promotions and the toxic and tumultuous move from Upton Park, the 34-year-old can hardly believe how his West Ham career is ending.

"Even what has happened up until this stage, for my last season, to do what we have done [has been incredible]," Noble told Standard Sport.

West Ham captain Mark Noble will retire next month after 18 years of service to the east London club (Getty Images)
West Ham captain Mark Noble will retire next month after 18 years of service to the east London club (Getty Images)

"Even if you take the Europa League out of it, we have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 15 years, [beaten] Man City at home in the cup on penalties and then I've played a lot in the Europa League games myself.

“I've been involved in most of them so it has been an amazing last season for me. It would be nice to go out on a high."

Is Noble allowing thoughts to drift ahead towards a potential final in Seville?

"Of course you do. The people who say they don't are liars because it happens naturally in your head, the thought of winning the Europa League,” he said. “But there are three games to go so we take care of Thursday first. Then obviously we play Arsenal and then Frankfurt away, so it’s a massive couple of weeks."

Noble was one of six changes made by manager David Moyes for Sunday's London derby at Chelsea.

With Declan Rice, Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini all rested ahead of Thursday, West Ham’s second string battled until the 90th minute against the European champions.

It took a red card for Craig Dawson, West Ham's only fit central defender who had been immense to that point, to allow Chelsea the room to find a last-gasp winner - and only after Jorginho had seen his penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

Despite the defeat, Noble backed the decision to protect West Ham’s star men for Frankfurt.

"The manager is not one for really making that many changes," he said. “It [Thursday] is the biggest night in the club's history for a long, long time.

"He was right to do it. The boys he brought in were fantastic and did a great job for him. All thoughts now on Thursday. Hopefully we can have an incredible night at home."

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