The West Ham who fought off a gang of Dutch ultras has claimed he is no hero, and explained exactly what happened.
On Thursday West Ham booked their place in the Europa Conference League Final with a 1-0 win at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
Pablo Fornals scored an injury-time winner to secure a 3-1 aggregate win, setting up a final showdown with Italian side Fiorentina in Prague.
Unfortunately, events in the stands overshadowed the on-field drama.
After the late goal, 58-year-old West Ham fan Chris Knoll was filmed fighting off a group of Alkmaar ultras who had broken into the stand housing the families of Hammers players.
‘Knollsy’ – well known for his role in the supporter movements in the 80s – was hailed as a hero by fans and players alike as the videos went viral.
West Ham fan “Knollsy” protecting the family stand and fending off AZ ultras
— West Ham Central (@WestHam_Central) May 19, 2023
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola called Knoll a ‘legend’ while his wife Marrion labelled him as the ‘biggest hero.’
However, the father of four said he doesn’t deserve such praise.
“I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do. There was another guy who was fending them off,” Knoll toldMailOnline.
“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 on causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us.”
Knollsy explained exactly how the incident unfolded.
He said: “I saw them [Alkmaar fans] all congregate on the side of the pitch and then they broke down the barriers and headed to the first group of West Ham fans.
Knollsy the legend. Stopped the home fans from getting to the players’ families. Give him a ticket for the final @WestHam @WestHamHelp @AwayDays_ #COYI pic.twitter.com/Rs8RhTvU1m
— freddie bonfanti (@freddiebonfa) May 18, 2023
“I know what they were intent on doing and was not going to let it happen.
“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.
“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. It’s not too bad, but I might go to the hospital to get it checked out.”
Hundreds of fans have called for Knollsy to be given a free ticket for the final, but as things stand, he won’t be in Prague.
Knollsy added: “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.”