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JOL: MY HEROES

Posted on 7 May 2006  - 12:00

Martin Jol insisted 'there were heroes out there' as a number of players fought against sickness in what turned into a sad season's finale at West Ham on Sunday.

Martin Jol insisted 'there were heroes out there' as a number of players fought against sickness in what turned into a sad season's finale at West Ham on Sunday.

Up to 10 players were hit by illness as they prepared for the most important match of what has been a memorable, European qualifying campaign.

But Sunday was all about fourth place.

Victory at Upton Park would have secured it for us but as it turned out our 2-1 loss coupled with Arsenal's 4-2 win against Wigan meant we were pipped at the post after holding the position since December.

Yossi Benayoun's goal in the 80th minute proved decisive after we'd shrugged off a slow start and Jermain Defoe had levelled Carl Fletcher's opener.

A naturally disappointed Martin was left to reflect on what might have been and explained what had happened. "We were disrupted because we had nine or 10 players feeling sick in bed," said the Head Coach.

"The trouble was that we had some players in the line-up like Carrick and Dawson and for Dawson, for example, the substitutes were Calum Davenport, who was ill and then Tom Huddlestone could have come in but he was ill as well. So we had problems.

"We went out for the warm-up and our fans were great and that made the lads feel a bit stronger but if you had food poisoning you need fluids and food - a couple of the guys hadn't eaten since Saturday.

"It was a strange situation. In the team meeting everyone said 'gaffer, we want to go over there and we want to play' and that they would try the warm-up and if that went okay, they would play.

"They came back into the dressing room (after the warm-up) and we made the decision to play.

"In the end it was disappointing but I'm still proud of them because there were heroes out there.

"If you saw Dawson he was very sick, I can tell you, but he still played 90 minutes and gave everything.

"Michael Carrick was the same but he couldn't go on and Robbie Keane twisted his ankle last week and I thought of playing Lee Barnard but in the end I had to play Robbie.

"It wasn't our best game but under the circumstances we tried our best. We showed some resilience but well done to West Ham, they played well."