Soucek admitts a ‘special motivation’ for AZ Alkmaar after West Ham failure

Tomas Soucek acknowledges that West Ham United’s disappointment from last season’s Europa League semi-final can serve as a source of motivation for their upcoming match against AZ Alkmaar, writes the

The Hammers are currently in the Netherlands for the second leg of their Europa Conference League semi-final clash, holding a slim one-goal lead from the previous encounter at the London Stadium. Despite their advantage, the tie is still finely balanced as AZ Alkmaar boasts an impressive home record in European competitions, having remained undefeated in their last 25 matches on their home turf.

Soucek is well aware of the challenging task ahead for West Ham as they aim to surpass their previous season’s disappointment of losing to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals. The Czech Republic international expresses his eagerness for the Hammers to leave that pain behind and strive to go further by reaching the final of the Europa Conference League.

He emphasizes the importance of learning from last season’s letdown as West Ham sets their sights on reaching the final, which holds special significance for him as it will take place in his hometown of Prague next month.

“I remember last year that we were very disappointed after the semi-final and even more a few days and few months after that we didn’t reach the final,” he said, speaking ahead of the game. “Now, it’s even more motivation for all of us that we know we are one game from it, especially when we lost it last year, it makes it even more for this year.

“I didn’t watch the [Frankfurt] game because I was so disappointed for many days and even months. Even now, I wanted to be there in the final, but I remember nearly every set-piece or [thing] we could do better this time and even I saw that we didn’t do well in the first leg, so I was happy that we did now in the first leg. Every tie is very important to go in the right direction for the first one, but now, we have a second leg and we have to show at least a similar performance to the last leg at home.

“[We learned] To go from the first minute of the first-leg, we did that better than last year. It’s a massive improvement but now we’re here and we’re all motivated to get to the final because we know that West Ham haven’t for a few years and we want to give our fans this chance to get to the final. That’s our goal for all of us, so I think we’re even more motivated than last year.

“Since I knew the final is in Prague – at the beginning of the season – I told the guys: come on we need to go there because it’s my home. So it’s an even special motivation for me to get there because I know the stadium very well. I came there at 10 years old so it’s another special motivation.”