West Ham United's Mark Noble was seen deep in conversation with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola following last weekend's 2-2 draw between the two teams at the London Olympic Stadium.The 35-year-old was making his final appearance in front of West Ham's home fans and the City boss made a beeline for the midfielder at the final whistle in order to congratulate him on an 18-year professional career
However Noble has refused to explain exactly what Guardiola said to him, although he revealed that the Spaniard's comments were well intentioned and warmly received.
"I won't share what he said, that is between me and him, but I will never forget it," Noble told the BBC ahead of what promises to be yet another emotional afternoon as he prepares final game in a claret and blue short at Brighton this coming weekend.
"He knows the feelings you get as a home-grown player. It is not just winning and losing. For me the highs were massively high and the lows were incredibly low at times. I had to learn in my later years to be able to cope with that and not take it home with me.
"Years and years ago, there were a lot of local boys playing in their teams. But times move on. Most teams at Premier League level have scouts in every country in the world. Agents know every player with potential.
"I came through as a West Ham fan and lived, not just every West Ham fan, but every fan's dream. To play for and captain the team you grew up supporting, is why millions of people in this country pay a lot of money to go and watch their teams. They have that affiliation and loyalty."
Meanwhile Nobes admitted that he had considered leaving the club at points during his career but like fellow legend Frank Lampard Snr before him - who once pulled out of a move to Norwich while halfway up the A12 due to his love for West Ham - couldn't resist the lure of remaining in east London.
"I had it on numerous occasions but always wanted to stay," he said. "We got relegated at one point and but I thought 'this club gave me my debut and had belief in me when I was a kid so I am not just going to chuck my towel in now and go elsewhere'.
"I made it a goal to help get the club back to the Premier League."
After 18 years at West Ham, his only pro club, Noble revealed he is just happy to be ending his career on his own terms, rather than having retirement thrust upon him - and urged any fellow pros to follow his example if possible.
"I would say this to any player," he added, "go out on your own terms when you are ready. You retire from the game, don't let the game retire you. That leaves you in peace. That was so important for me."
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