Declan Rice message to West Ham 'hero' Chris Knolls resurfaces after AZ Alkmaar incident
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A video message from West Ham United captain Declan Rice to supporter Chris Knolls has resurfaced after the Hammers fan went viral following his involvement with AZ Alkmaar ultras on Thursday evening.
Knolls, also known as 'Knollsy' helped fend of hooligans that had attempted to enter the area of the stands at AZ Alkmaar where the friends and family of West Ham players were sat.
Two West Ham v around a hundred balaclava’d cowards.— ⚒️🏰⚒️ 𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬 𝐌𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬 ⚒🏰⚒ (@Chris_Mills_) May 19, 2023
Well done Knollsy. Protecting the players families ⚒️⚒️
The electrician, 58, became an overnight hero and has since released a video explaining what happened in the Netherlands, insisting he's no hero.
David Moyes' men had secured their place in the Europa Conference League final thanks to a late strike from Pablo Fornals to secure a 3-1 aggregate victory over the Dutch side and will now take on Fiorentina in Prague on 7 June.
However, what should have been a night of celebrations, could have turned ugly quickly with numerous West Ham players, including Rice, having to climb over the advertising hoards to protect their loved ones.
Despite being a new name to most football fans, 'Knollsy' had been the recipient of a video message from Hammers favourite Rice two years ago when in hospital with illness with the now-captain wishing him a speedy recovery.
In 2021, when Knollsy was in a bad shape, @_DeclanRice left him this message. He always says it’s what made him recover. The man is West Ham through and through and would have done anything to protect our fans tonight. pic.twitter.com/wjP1kBrGmv— freddie bonfanti (@freddiebonfa) May 19, 2023
In the video, the England international said: "I just want to send you the best of wishes from me and everyone at West Ham and we're all fighting for you mate."
Explaining his actions, Knolls said: “I don’t like bullies. You could see they were intent on causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us. I saw them all congregate on the side of the pitch and then they broke down the barriers and headed to the first group of West Ham fans.
“I know what they were intent on doing and was not going to let it happen. It was fairly obvious what was going to happen because they were intent on coming to us. They were the ultras, you could see that from what they were wearing. I just decided I wasn't going to let them come up.
“I just thought the best form of defence would be to get to the top of the stairs where they were coming up and just stood there and tried to stop them. I know they were swinging punches and I just did my best to stand there and take it.”
The Irons supporter's left eye is badly bruised and also has marks on the side of his face. He added: “If you've seen the pictures, there's about five or six guys in front of me and I'm sort of trying to fend them off.
“Somehow, I don't know how, two got behind me, right. And as I'm dealing with the other guys, there's one guy who's just constantly bagging me in the side of the head. That's what caused the bruised eye. It's not too bad, but I might go to hospital to get it checked out.”