West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek has spoken about the difficulties he faced settling into life in England during the coronavirus pandemic.
Soucek arrived at the London Stadium on loan in January 2020 before a permanent move to the club later that year.
The Czech Republic star revealed that West Ham helped him to settle and the first thing he had to do was master the English language.
“I arrived during the Covid-19 time which was really hard but the club helped me settle in,” Soucek told Foundation’s Post-16 Football and Education programme.
“It was my first transfer to a foreign team and everyone was there for me from the first moment, and at home I tried to learn English and tried to get to know my area. It all makes a positive difference.”
Soucek was speaking along with Declan Rice ahead of Euro 2020 to local people as part of the West Ham Foundations Players’ Project.
As part of the project, Hammers players from the men’s, women’s and academy teams have been contacting people in the local community to offer support and to talk about wellbeing issues and provide insight into their own experiences.
Over the past 18 months, West Ham, led by captain Mark Noble, manager David Moyes, Rice and the Supporter Services team, have made over 5,000 phone calls to the over 70s and vulnerable supporters.
Defender Ben Johnson is the latest player to get involved in the project and has been making calls to Hammers fans and community participants as part of West Ham’s support for Loneliness Awareness Week.
“Our supporters and local community are really important to us at West Ham United so it was my pleasure to take some time out, pick up the phone and make calls alongside others at the club as we continue to do what we can to help those who might be feeling isolated or lonely,” Johnson said.
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“It’s been a really tough time and everybody has their own situations to deal with. We need to remember to keep connected and reach out to others who could need that bit of extra support.”
For anyone who is affected by feelings of loneliness, the Marmalade Trust is a resource where people can reach out and connect with others.