West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and Hammers striker Gialuca Scamacca have hailed the fearless West Ham fan who defended the families of the Premier League team’s players from a mob of Dutch hooligans last night.
Chris Knoll, dubbed the ‘Angel of Alkmaar’, is a 58-year-old father-of-four recovering from hip replacement surgery as reported by the Daily Mail
Sporting a swollen left eye and red scrapes on his face, Chris told the Daily Mail: ‘I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do. There was another guy who was fending them off. I don’t like bullies and just had to try and stop them.
‘I just thought the best form of defence was to attack. You could see they were intent of causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us.’
Chris, known to his friends as ‘Knollsy’, stood atop a stairwell to prevent the Dutch hooligans from reaching other fans.
Chris said: ‘We were in our seats and we just scored and I saw all the flares go off. It was getting a little bit rowdy.
‘I saw them all congregated 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.’
He said: ‘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. Its not too bad, but I might go to hospital to get it checked out.’
‘I’m not involved in any trouble, just an ordinary season ticket holder who goes to every home game,’ he said.
Chris, an electrician, stayed overnight in an Amsterdam hotel before flying back to his home to his wife Karen in West London.
He said she was not surprised that he had stood up to protect women and children.
‘She knows what I am like, and I don’t like bullies. My kids are the same, they will always stand up and be counted,’ he said.
‘I’ve been a season ticket holder for about five years and always go to the home games. I can’t go to the away games as it takes over your life, and I’m not sure the wife would be too happy as I’ve got work as well.
‘Apart from what happened at the end it was a fantastic night, and so pleased we are in the final.’
Chris said he has not been able to get tickets for the final in two weeks time.
He said: ‘If I can get a ticket and a couple for the two who were with me in Amsterdam I will be there to cheer on the Hammers.
‘I’d love to be at the final. Hopefully it will be trouble free and we can just enjoy and fantastic match.’