West Ham fan who fought off Dutch ultras is a dad-of-four

West Ham keeper and his wife hail ‘Angel of Alkmaar’ – known as ‘Knollsy’ – who fought off Dutch ultras as the hero dad-of-four reveals he’s recovering from a hip replacement (and can’t get tickets to the final!)

  • Chris Knoll, 58, has been praised for defending the families of West Ham players
  • The Briton held back hordes of hooded Alkmaar ultras as they swarmed stands 
  • Alphonse Areola, West Ham’s goalkeeper, paid tribute to Knoll on Instagram 

West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola and his wife have hailed the fearless fan who defended the families of the Premier League team’s players from a mob of Dutch hooligans last night.

Chris Knoll, dubbed the ‘Angel of Alkmaar’, is a 58-year-old father-of-four recovering from hip replacement surgery, MailOnline can reveal.

He has been widely praised for putting himself in harm’s way as hooded thugs tried to storm the seating area where the players’ partners and children were seated.

He refused to allow the ‘ultras’ to reach the terrified group – as concerned West Ham players, including striker Michail Antonio, rushed from the pitch after their victory over AK Alkmaar.

On Friday afternoon, West Ham and France goalkeeper Areola called Knoll a ‘legend’ while his wife Marrion Areola Valette added he was the ‘biggest hero’ on a historic night for the Hammers.

Sporting a swollen left eye and red scrapes on his face, Chris told MailOnline: ‘I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do. There was another guy who was fending them off. I don’t like bullies and just had to try and stop them.

The hero West Ham fan who defended the families of West Ham players from a mob of Dutch hooligans last night is 58-year-old father-of-four Chris Knoll, who is recovering from hip replacement surgery, MailOnline can reveal

The Briton, known as 'Knollsy', can be seen holding off the Dutch hooligans at the top of a set of stairs as they attempt to flood into the seating of the family stand

‘I just thought the best form of defence was to attack. You could see they were intent of causing trouble and I did not want them to get to those behind us.’

Chris, known to his friends as ‘Knollsy’, stood atop a stairwell to prevent the Dutch hooligans from reaching other fans.

Footage of Chris fighting off at least half a dozen AK Alkmaar ultras has gone worldwide. He was pictured afterwards with his shirt torn, but still smiling.

He has been widely praised on social media for his heroic stand, being likened to heroic figures in history and characters from ‘Games of Thrones’.

Chris, who has supported the East London club since he was a teenager, said he had travelled to the semi-final match with his son-in-law and a close friend.

The match had passed off without trouble until West Ham sealed victory to secure a place in the Europa Conference Final in the closing minutes – leading to the AK Alkmaar thugs dressed all in black to burst through stewards and attempt to climb up into the stands where the families of players were seated.

Chris said: ‘We were in our seats and we just scored and I saw all the flares go off. It was getting a little bit rowdy.

‘I saw them all congregated on the side of the pitch and then they broke down the barriers and headed to the first group of West Ham fans. I know what they were intent on doing and was not going to let it happen.

‘It was fairly obvious what was going to happen because they were intent on coming to us. They were the ultras, you could see that from what they were wearing. I just decided I wasn’t going to let them come up.

‘I just thought the best form of defence would be to get to the top of the stairs where they were coming up and just stood there and tried to stop them. I know they were swinging punches and I just did my best to stand there and take it.’

West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola called Knoll a 'legend' on Instagram

Areola's wife added he was the 'biggest hero' on a historic night for the Hammers

Areola and wife Marrion Areola Valette took to social media to share their thanks with Knoll

Chris was praised on social media for springing to the defence of West Ham defender Thilo Kerher's girlfriend

A fan holds off the mob of AZ Alkmaar supporters as they tried to make their way up the steps to clash with West Ham fans after the Dutch side lost the Europa Conference League semi-final