MATCH chats to the WEST HAM star about some of our fave snaps from his ace career!
MICHAIL SAYS: “I hate this picture, and it comes up all the time! This is Cheltenham, where I made my Football League debut. I’d been playing for Reading’s reserves and Cheltenham came to watch and said, “We want him.” In my first game, I started at Elland Road in front of 20,000 people.
“Five minutes in, I’m on fire! Every time I picked up the ball, I was beating people and putting crosses in. Next thing, I take a long throw-in, the ball comes back to me, I’ve beaten three players and gone to take a shot, and then me and another player hit the ball at the same time, and I tore three ligaments in my ankle – 12 minutes into my debut!
“I said, “I’m not coming off.” I strapped my ankle with my boots and socks on, because if I’d taken them off my ankle would have swollen up. I played to the 28th minute, and then had to come off – three months out! I only managed to play a few more games before the end of the season.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “This is up there in the top three moments of my career. It was my 20th birthday, and it was one of the best days of my life! There were 75,000 fans there, and the atmosphere was unbelievable. We got in a huddle before the game, and we could hardly hear what our captain was saying, because the noise was that loud. But the way the day went, we won 4-1, I got a goal on my birthday, and I celebrated in front of my family, so it was just amazing.
“Adam Lallana, on my left here, is definitely one of the best I’ve played with. He’s just so talented – two-footed, and even though he’s not a quick player, with his flair he’s able to get past people. He’s technically unbelievable and definitely one of the best I’ve worked with.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “This is the goal I scored to help Sheffield Wednesday get promoted to the Championship. It was the last day of the season, and we were battling with Sheffield United, so it was a must-win game. I managed to nick the first goal, and the eruption when that ball goes into the net – wow. It was unbelievable! It’s a massive club – there were 39,000 people there that day.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “I remember this game and I go back to it every time Harry Kane scores a goal. He came off the bench, and the boys were saying, “this kid’s from Tottenham, but we don’t understand why he’s there.” He came off the bench and did nothing for the whole game! This was about a year before he started playing for Tottenham, and he went from that to where he is now. It’s ridiculous, because in this game, he brought nothing at all, but look at him now – it shows where hard work and dedication can get you.
“Personally, loans 100% made me the player I am. I was at Reading for five years and spent four of them out on loan. I wasn’t a person to just be in and around the squad, I wanted to keep getting experience and learning the game. Through that, my loans got my moves, and that’s taken me to where I am now.”
MICHAIL SAYS: “This is my first goal for Nottingham Forest, against Blackpool. I played 50 times in a row for them – I didn’t miss a game for a year. It’s a massive club as well – I’ve been at some big clubs, with Sheffield Wednesday and Forest. The history they have is ridiculous. This was definitely the best year of my career . I enjoyed every minute of it, scoring goals, assisting goals, and it was just a great time. They loved me down there – I was Player Of The Year, joint top scorer and top assister too. I look big in that picture though!”
UPTON PARK SEND-OFF
MICHAIL SAYS: “This was the last game at Upton Park. We went 2-1 down, and the boys were saying, “It can’t end like this!” The way we turned it around was unbelievable. This was the second goal to make it 2-2, and then Winston Reid got the winner. The atmosphere in the stadium was outrageous – there were thousands of people outside the ground who didn’t even have tickets. They just wanted to be at the stadium for the last game. It took our bus nearly two hours to get half a mile, and in the end we didn’t even make it to the stadium, we just had to walk. It was crazy!”
MICHAIL SAYS: “When I look back at my England call-ups, I’m mostly disappointed I didn’t play. As a professional footballer, I always want to be involved in the games, but I’m still buzzing to have been given the call-up, and obviously I haven’t given up on playing for England one day. I’ve just got to keep going out there and doing what I do, and hopefully next time I’ll get on the pitch!”
Michail Antonio was supporting the fifth season of PlayStation Schools’ Cup, the biggest grassroots football tournament in the country. Since its launch, over 150,000 players have been involved. Visitwww.playstationschoolscup.com