West Ham cult hero Carlton Cole says club deserves to be on the European stage

Departing West Ham United cult hero Carlton Cole says the club deserves the chance to play in the Europa League, even if he won't be around to enjoy it.

Former Chelsea youngster Carlton Cole is a firm favourite at Upton Park for his dedication to the cause over the past nine years.

When the Hammers were relegated under the disastrous Avram Grant in 2011, Cole offered to take a huge pay cut to stay and help the East Londoners win promotion back to the big time.

His goals that season, including a memorable strike in the play-off final win over Blackpool in 2012, helped Sam Allardyce's side win promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

His stock rose further still when, after leaving the club in May 2013, he returned as an unattached player in October to help the Hammers through an injury crisis.

He was then rewarded with a new 18-month deal in the January which expires after the Newcastle game this Sunday.

The popular striker has scored 56 goals in 258 appearances for the Hammers and is also the club's second highest appearance holder in their 20-year Premier League history.

Now, despite not being offered a new deal with the club he calls 'home', Cole has backed the Irons to thrive on the European stage should - as is expected - they qualify via the FIFA Fair Play route.

"West Ham deserve to be in Europe, it’s a good outfit here especially as we’ll be moving into the bigger stadium as well," he told West Ham's official website.

“I’m not sure what the fair play league is saying, but it looks like we’ll be up there to go into that.

"You never know with what’s going on so we’ll wait and see where it takes us.”

Cole has not been playing as regularly as he would like at Upton Park in the last few seasons.

And the 31-year-old concedes it is likely he will be moving on to pastures new this summer with West Bromich Albion a possibility after the Hammers pulled the plug on his deadline day move to the Hawthorns at the 11th hour in January.

But despite all that, Cole still holds out hope he could remain 'part of the furniture' at the Boleyn Ground.

He added: “Of course I’d like to stay, but this is how things go in football. If I don’t, I don’t, If I do and I’m still here, I’ll be performing to the best of my ability."

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