- Premier League
Nolan: I let people down, but dark days are past me
West Ham captain Kevin Nolan has spoken of his personal agony after he was sent off twice inside a month and missed key games in his side's battle to beat the Premier League drop through suspension.
Red cards at Liverpool and Fulham contributed to damaging defeats in West Ham's troubled season, with Nolan's contrition evident as he spoke to London's Evening Standard.
"The last few weeks have been among the most difficult of my career - certainly on a par with when I joined Newcastle and they got relegated," Nolan said. "That was a tough time, but I came through it and when I go back up there now, they treat me well, I get respect because they know what I'm about, I'm a fighter.
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"What's happened to me over the last month was very out of character. I've never been through anything like that before, but I have now and I'm hoping to prove, by the end of the season, that I've come through it.
"Things have been made easier by the support I've had from my family, friends and Lee Richardson, the club psychologist. It's at times like this you appreciate who is next to you - who is around you - and my support system is fantastic.
"I've been pretty low, but thankfully I had my family and friends. Without them, you don't know how dark it could have got. I hope I can repay the faith of people."
Nolan went on to confirm he has apologised to his team-mates for the red cards that came as a result of a reckless challenge on Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and a moment of indiscipline at Craven Cottage.
"I know what I did was wrong," Nolan said. "I thought it was quite a harsh sending-off at Fulham but, at the end of the day, I put myself in that situation. That disappointed me most. It was my fault, there was no one else to blame. I've let people down.
"I've had to take it on the chin, it's been dealt with, the gaffer has had his say and rightly so, he's told me what he expects of me and now it's up to me. I have to deal with it and I'm big enough, strong enough and ugly enough to do that.
"After I was sent off at Fulham I just went and sat in the toilet. Pete, the kit man, was there in the dressing room, he tried to console me a bit and if there's one person you want to see when something that bad happens, he'd be top of the list. He gave me a big hug and that's just the way we are as a club. We all support each other.
"I've apologised to all the lads and they've said, 'we all make mistakes, let's just forget about it and get on with it'. If it had happened to anyone else they would have got the same reaction from me, but it was nice to know I had the full support of all those boys.
"I've been in a lot of dressing rooms and it's easy to say, 'we've got a great bunch of lads' when things are going well. When it starts going a bit wrong, though, that's the real test of a dressing room. Then you can get people talking behind backs, but there's never been anything like that here. We're very much in it together."