Key member of West Ham backroom staff confirms what fans already know about Angelo Ogbonna

Everton's Yannick Bolasie in action with West Ham United's Angelo Ogbonna

Angelo Ogbonna has praise ringing in his ears after a key member of West Ham United's backroom staff confirmed what fans already know.

West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna on the pitch before the matchWest Ham's Angelo Ogbonna

Italy international Ogbonna has written himself into West Ham United folklore with his selfless conduct this season.

When West Ham were struggling fingers were occasionally pointed at the former Juventus man.

Games against Everton and Arsenal in particular spring to mind as examples which showed the former Torino defender simply was not the same player that impressed so much in his debut season in East London last term.

Of course more often than not in the first half of the season there were plenty of others performing worse than 'Oggie' as he is affectionately known to the Hammers faithful.

So good was Ogbonna last season that Antonio Conte showed a keen interest in bringing his former Juve and Italy player to West Ham's London rivals Chelsea after his appointment in the summer, as reported by Football Italia.

It was a relief to all including Slaven Bilic that he stayed but the speculation led many to presume his below par performances were somehow linked.

Who can forget BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand's assessment of Ogbonna "ambling" around against Arsenal - a game Bilic's side lost 5-1.

Everton's Idrissa Gueye in action with West Ham United's Angelo OgbonnaOgbonna in action against Everton

At Everton a few weeks before Ogbonna was also far too slow to react to danger and cost his side in a 2-0 defeat.

Of course Ferdinand and West Ham's supporters were not to know the truth, not until after the club's 3-1 win away at Middlesbrough.

It was after that game Bilic - following the £8 million signing of Southampton captain Jose Fonte - revealed Ogbonna was set to go under the knife for a knee operation and would be out for the season.

It was a problem that Ogbonna had been playing through pain with all season.

Playing through pain for the club, for the manager, for his teammates with a serious injury which clearly had been impeding his ability to get around the pitch in the way he and his fans had become accustomed.

Ogbonna risked ridicule, his reputation and his future for West Ham this season and not once did he use it as an excuse for his or the team's poor performances.

And now West Ham's head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke has confirmed what Hammers fans already knew, that Oggie is a top professional on and off the training pitch.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic and Head of Medical and Sports Science Stijn Vandenbroucke arrive for trainingHammers boss Slaven Bilic with head of medical and sports science Stijn Vandenbroucke

"Angelo Ogbonna has stepped up his rehab and began running on Thursday at Rush Green following the patellar tendon operation he underwent in January," Vandenbroucke told whufc.com.

"Angelo is an unbelievable professional and a very nice person, so he is a pleasure to work with in the rehab, which always accelerates the process.

"You know the old saying ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’ and it has been a pleasure for our head physiotherapist Dom Rogan to work with Angelo on a one-to-one basis."

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