West Ham fan praised for holding off entire gang of AZ Alkmaar ultras as Hammers progress to Europa Conference League final
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One West Ham United fan has received huge plaudits online after footage emerged of him fending off an entire group of AZ Alkmaar ultras single-handedly as scenes turned sour following the Hammers’ progress to the Europa Conference League final.
David Moyes’ side, who have endured a torrid time in the Premier League this term, reached the final in Prague after overcoming Dutch side AZ 3-1 on aggregate over two legs.
A Pablo Fornals strike deep into second-half stoppage time at the AFAS Stadion sealed the tie to set up a clash with Fiorentina in what will be West Ham’s first major European final since 1976.
The jubilant celebrations, however, were marred by some unsavoury scenes shortly after the full-time whistle as a group of AZ ultras could be seen attacking sections of the away fans.
Some disgruntled home supporters were even spotted jumping the barricade into the West Ham ‘family section’ where many of the players’ friends and loved ones were sat.
Videos show some Hammers players, including Antonio and captain Declan Rice, trying to diffuse the situation as chaos ensued.
Several Hammers fans could also be seen trying to hold off the approaching AZ ultras, many of whom were clad in hoods and balaclavas.
One supporter, knicknamed ‘Knollsy’, has been singled out for praise after a clip was posted online showing him preventing an entire gang of violent fans from entering the hospitality area.
Knollsy’s efforts appear all the more impressive after it was revealed on social media that he had only recently undergone hip replacement surgery.
His friend wrote: “A bit of context, we were sitting behind Thilo Kerher's girlfriend. Knollsy was worried about her and walked to the top of the stairwell, fending off the storming Alkmaar fans.
“He's a lovely bloke and did what he felt was right at the time. He stopped those fans.”
Fellow Hammers fans quickly took to Twitter to express their admiration for Knollsy, with many now calling for him to receive free tickets to the final on 7 June.
“Buy that Man a beer. It's like a scene from the Battle of Stamford Bridge (1066) - one dude holding back the horde,” one wrote.
A second added: “That man should never have to pay for a beer at any game as long as he lives.”
Meanwhile, a third simply posted: “300 Spartans reincarnated as 1 bloke. What a legend.”
Speaking after the game on BT Sport, former West Ham star Joe Cole added: “It's absurd. Ridiculous grown men, AZ Alkmaar fans attacking the fans where families were sitting, our friends and colleagues.
“We have friends sitting there. In the modern game, with the cameras in these places, find out who these people are and ban them for life. We were talking about bringing our kids to the final now you second guess when you see things like that.”