Defoe not surprised by West Ham exploits under 'top manager' Moyes
Jermain Defoe is not surprised by West Ham’s success in Europe and credited “top manager” David Moyes ahead of their Europa Conference League final on Wednesday.
West Ham can clinch their first major European trophy since 1965 when they face Italian side Fiorentina in Prague, where the Hammers will hope to sign off on a high after a disappointing domestic campaign.
And former England and Hammers striker Defoe lauded Moyes as the mastermind behind his boyhood side’s resurgence in Europe, which also saw them reach the Europa League semi-finals last season.
Defoe, who played for the Scot at Sunderland, said: “It’s amazing really, an unbelievable story. It will be nice to see the boys win and for David Moyes who I played under – he is a top manager.
“I have not been surprised to be honest (with West Ham reaching the final) because tactically Moyes is so good. His attention to detail, he spends a lot of time setting the team up, he’s experienced so I have not been surprised.
“There has been a lot of speculation about his (Moyes) future and to top this off with a trophy it would be amazing.”
Defoe believes the criticism that the former Everton and Manchester United boss has received for West Ham’s performances this season has been harsh at times.
He said: “I think now it’s part and parcel of the game, if you’re not getting results you’re going to be under pressure.
“I think at times it’s been harsh but of course I’m going to say that because I’ve played under Moyes and I know the hard work he puts in.”
Irons captain Declan Rice could play his last game in claret and blue this week amid heavy speculation about his future at the London Stadium, with a host of clubs being linked with a big-money move for the 24-year-old midfielder.
Defoe hailed the England international and highlighted his wide range of attributes which could make the difference in Wednesday’s showdown.
The 40-year-old, who will feature in this year’s Soccer Aid, said: “Oh my God, this guy has so much potential. I still feel like he has so much room to improve and he’s still young.
“He seems to be getting better and better every time I watch him play and I think he can play in different positions, If he plays further forward I think he’ll score more goals. He’s someone who really excites me.
“In terms of character and personality he’s definitely got that and he’s still young which is frightening because he’s only going to improve, so how good is he going to be in three, four or five years’ time? He’s a leader, he can run, he can tackle. It’s brilliant.”
Rice made his England debut in 2019 and has gone on to win 41 caps for his country while establishing himself as a regular in Gareth Southgate’s side.
Defoe said: “It’s not only for West Ham where he performs it’s for England as well at that pinnacle level, so he’s definitely one who deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done and the hard work he’s put in, the rate he’s improving and how he stays humble which is important as well.”
The 2023 Soccer Aid event will take place on June 11 at Old Trafford and Defoe, who made 57 appearances for England, is relishing the chance to feature in this year’s fixture.
The Tottenham, Bournemouth and Rangers forward said: “I’m looking forward to it to be fair because I played in it a few years back and UNICEF is a massive charity.
“I watch it every year anyway so to be a part of it this year is really good, I’m looking forward to it.”
: Tickets for Soccer Aid For UNICEF on Sunday 11th June 2023 at Old Trafford, are still available via www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets with a family of four able to attend for just £60 — two adults and two children