West Ham skipper Neill slams "childish" Blackburn fans

"I felt I had been at the club as long as I could be at the club and given them the best I could give them. I needed the change, wherever it was, to sharpen myself up," said Neill.

"I was too comfortable in my surroundings and I didn't want to get stale and I didn't want to put in performances that were just average or mediocre.

"I needed to go and give myself a new challenge and new people to impress and new team-mates to get myself stimulated again.

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"That is why I was disappointed with the reception I got from Blackburn because I had given them six years, missing just four games a year for six years and never missing a day's training.

"I led the team in the last part of the season before I left and tried to do it to the best of my ability and I helped get them into Europe.

"I never came out in the press and said anything bad - and then to be booed for furthering my career was a little bit childish."

West Ham's victory at Ewood Park last year kick-started their dramatic survival campaign and Neill is determined to quieten his critics with a repeat performance.

"I had the last laugh that day and I am sure it will be the same again," said Neill.

"Apart from Chelsea last week I think this will be our hardest game to date. It is a compliment to Mark Hughes and his staff that when you play Blackburn you know you have been in a game because they always top the stats in stamina and sprints.

"There will be no greater pleasure than matching them for their work rate and taking the spoils."

It was Neill's tough, competitive attitude that attracted Alan Curbishley as he looked to inject experience and leadership into a struggling West Ham side last January.

"Lucas came to us and he immediately had an impact. I saw him as an ideal captain," said Curbishley.

"The biggest disappointment Lucas had was his reaction from the Blackburn fans. He gave great service to that club - but that is football and I am sure he will get a similar reaction this weekend."

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