Jose Fonte made a return to the St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday as his West Ham United side beat old employers Southampton 3-1 in the Premier League.
The Portugal international made his intention to leave the south coast clear during the January transfer window and joined the Hammers in an £8 million deal.
Fonte’s return to the club he had spent eight seasons with was never going to be easy, with the centre-half getting a frosty reception from the home faithful.
Despite this, and the fact that Manolo Gabbiadini put Southampton ahead with a stunning strike, West Ham and Fonte rallied to claim all three Premier League points.
The Portuguese veteran has spoken out about his experience of playing at St Mary’s again and thanked the Hammers travelling support for singing his name.
“It is was it is,” The Daily Echo quote Fonte as saying.
“I always gave my best for this club. I always gave my sweat, blood and tears so my conscience is very clear.
“It was a strange experience coming back to Southampton today,” he added. “It was emotional, difficult, but in the end I can say a big thank you to everyone – to the West Ham supporters and my teammates for helping me get through this.
“It is difficult – I’m only human – but I think I managed to block everything [out] and stay focused on the game. The most important thing was achieved, which is the three points and a great performance.
“I had eight seasons at Southampton, but I need to look forward and today was always going to be tricky, but in the end, like I said with the help of my teammates and the West Ham supporters, who were fantastic, I can look forward to the next one.
“Like I said, the past has gone. It was great, but now I look forward to the new challenge I have ahead of me.
“The West Ham supporters gave me a great sense of calmness. Thank you to them and thank you to my teammates for getting me through.”
Fonte was an important player in helping Southampton establish themselves in the Premier League but his departure has left the Saints short at the back.
The Portugal international has already become central to Slaven Bilic’s plans and is in the side to replace the injured Angelo Ogbonna currently.