The mighty Irons are competing in their first major European final since 1976 and will win a first piece of silverware since 1980 if w3 win the competition at the Fortuna Arena, a win that would qualify them for next season’s Europa League.
Here is every word Moyes said ahead of the game:
How does it feel to be sat here in the eve of a major European final?
It’s great to be sitting here in the first place. To be in European final for any manager is a thrill whether you’re an experienced or a very young, it’s one of the pinnacles you can get in football as a coach. When you start out, it’s a case of: ‘Can you reach a final?’ Hopefully it’s the start. I’ve always said I think the best years are to come, but I’m certainly enjoying this one at the moment, enjoying the moment and being here with everybody.
What have you been up to in the 10 days between matches going into the final?
We’ve had a bit of time away, to Portugal, trained, and relaxed. Played 56 games this season and last year 63 or 64, then just the build up. Hopefully the gap of 10 days won’t be too big an issue when played so many games.
What do you make of Fiorentina?
I wouldn’t tell you but will say I am hugely impressed by Fiorentina, their form since the World Cup has been very good and they have already been into one cup final so it tells you they’ve got something. Their manager has done a really good job in his short time. Difficult opponent, Italian opponent always difficult and we respect that.
Is this game being in Prague a dream for Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal?
Both players come from this club with big affiliation to the city. Always felt we had a chance to get to the final and proved to be the case. Really pleased because both Tomas and Vlad have been great servants and really important team players.
Don’t look at it that way. Had a really good career, coaching since 34-35 over 1000 games in football and maybe 600 in the Premier League; been in some finals and some promotions but this is the biggest moment. It is for any coach, new or old. To be a coach for as long as I have means you have done something right. Longevity is difficult. There are lots of good young coaches starting but they have to see if they can do 20-25 years in the business because that’s what it takes.
Do you have a pre-match speech planned for the big occasion?
To do something completely different and not be myself would be odd but this is slightly different and more special than had for a long time. I’ve nothing really lined up but hope can give them motivation, inspiration, to get the right attitude, commitment and all the things players need but ultimately have to find a way to win. This job is about winning and that will be the key in the end.
What is your mind-set going into this game in terms of a strategy?
You’re continuously thinking about how to play, how to cause them problems, what problems will they cause us, also having plan B or plan C. Also to get yourself in the right place, doing the things that have got us to this position. We’ve gone through Europe unbeaten. Last year, we were unbeaten until the semi-final. Our record has been good.
You said that not me. I don’t want to answer that, our focus is on winning the game.
What is your thinking in terms of who starts in goal between Lukasz Fabianski and Alphonse Areola?
We’ve got those thoughts. One of the questions was about planning, I’ve got my thoughts in my head but won’t reveal them if you don’t mind.
Are you aiming to play fair throughout, or dirtier as Fiorentina have hinted?
There’s two cultures in the game, Italian and English and I hope we can get the right balance. I’ve every faith in the team to go about the job in the right way, professionally and hopefully learn lessons from Frankfurt in the semi-final last year.
How proud would you be to join a list of proud Scottish managers to win European titles, if you win?
Not spoken to them but some names I was brought up with as a boy, watching the greats of Scottish football. Scotland had great history of coaches and managers and maybe not so much now with lots of Italians and other nationalities so it would be great to be anywhere close to some of those names. Hope we can do enough to win a trophy.
What would it mean to Declan Rice to lift a trophy?
Wouldn’t limit it to Declan. What does it mean to West Ham to be in a final of Europe. We came close last year and have gone a step further. It’s a big achievement. Not easy going through Premier League and being competitive in this competition, so it’s a great achievement and the next part to see if we can go on and win it.
Would you consider yourself a West Ham legend?
I don’t think of myself as any different to anyone else in this room. I’m really fortunate and privileged and thankful to be given an opportunity to be a football manage and to have the opportunity to go this far in my career and be on stage like this. I thinker’s really special. I don’t ever really think of myself as being a legend or any words like that. I’d just like to be known as a football manager and one who’s serious about his job and tries to do the best he possibly can, week-in week-out try to prepare my teams to be competitive. I’d like to be known as much for that as much as I would the word legend, really.
What are the standards of the Premier League compared to Serie A?
The level in the Premier League is huge. The level in the Italian league is very good. The Premier League is so difficult and this competition has been good for us, it’s kept our head above water, we’ve felt good about it. Everybody really enjoyed it and the results and performances speak for themselves.
You have worked with UEFA on the technical board, but how does it feel as part of the match in a big European game?
Slightly surreal. I’m very fortunate UEFA over the years have helped me when I wasn’t in work. I’ve watched a lot of football, all the big games, was part of their technical committee. But to turn up today as a manager and have your own dressing room, know that your team is performing here, is a big thrill for me. I really hope I can take it to the next level, which is winning, but I’m up against a really good opponent and I know it’ll be a tough game. It’s good though, it’s great, and I hope there’s more to come.
Is your 87-year-old dad coming to watch? Has he given you any advice?
He will be in the pub but there’s a huge following from family. To be in this position is very good and good for the family and I hope they can enjoy it. If you see children go on to be successful, it is important. Hopefully it can give him something he can remember.