Wandsworth’s Michail Antonio became West Ham’s all-time top goalscorer in the Premier League after his double in their 3-1 win over Leicester City last night.
The South Londoner, who started in non-league with Tooting & Mitcham, moved past Paolo di Canio’s total after his 48th top-flight goal for the east Londoners.
Antonio celebrated by lifting and kissing a cardboard cut-out of himself. He then went on to score again against the Foxes to move further clear at the top.
“It’s amazing – I’m so relieved,” Antonio told Sky Sports. “In the first half I think I was overdoing it, trying to get the first goal. Then the second half, playing the way I normally do, I managed to get the goal. I didn’t just get one – I got two and I got the assist.
“I kind of let it affect me first half but in the second half I came out and did the job. I was trying to make history – it’s always going to be at the back of your mind.
“I’ve not been celebrating lately, because of VAR. But making history…I’ve got to do it special. I started off doing celebrations, so I’ve got to finish it doing celebrations.”
Antonio has switched to the number nine shirt.
“It was a difficult decision for me,” he said. “This is my seventh season at West Ham and I’d always been number 30. I was always thinking to be it. Over the last two years, playing as a number nine, I feel taking that and owning being the striker at West Ham was key for me. That’s the reason I did it. But I did have that love for the 30 shirt, so it was difficult to let go – I’m not going to lie.”
Asked about his goal target for this season, Antonio replied: “I’ve got to beat what I did last year. I was disappointed with my 10 goals, I was looking for 15. Now I’ve got three goals in two games, you never know, I could even get 20!”
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said: “He is a nightmare to play against – occupies defenders, runs in behind, has refined his game and has become more polished over the last few years.
“I remember when I was with England, with Roy Hodgson, and we were looking at him as a right-back – he was playing at the time at West Ham as a right wing-back. [I] never thought for one second he’s going to end up being this presence that he is in the Premier League as a forward. Absolutely brilliant.”
Asked why defenders don’t like playing against him, former England and Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher said: “Because he is very good. He just makes you smile. I think even rivals of West Ham, you can’t help not like him – how he plays the game. He is top quality. I’m a big fan of his, I really am.”