If it weren’t for left back Aaron Cresswell then midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate would have probably been West Ham’s player of the year.
In his first season in the Premier League and English football, midfield powerhouse Kouyate, who has also operated as a makeshift centre back, has been a revelation.
And he wants the man who gave him his chance – manager Sam Allardyce – to stay.
The Senegalese said: “He [Allardyce] gave me the chance to fulfil my dream and come and play here which is what I really wanted.
“If it hadn’t been for the manager then I’ll probably have been playing in Spain with Valencia. The manager did everything for me to come here. He even took time out from his holidays and made sacrifices to call me and make everything come true so I’m very thankful to him for that.
“It’s been very important to me and my family. The day I told my father I was coming to West Ham he cried and it was a defining moment in my life and my career.”
In 30 appearances Kouyate – formerly of Belgian outfit Anderlecht – has managed to score five goals. His performances for the Hammers have been superb throughout and he got even better since returning from the African Cup of Nations at the start of 2015.
“The reason I’m here is because of the manager. We don’t know what will happen in the future but were just focused on the upcoming game and we want to give our all to get the win for him.”