In the 23-years of my life I have seen some truly wonderful players and some, well let’s face it, awful ones as well.
So I thought, seeing as it has been a bit of a slow news week, I would share my all- time West Ham XI.
There are a few rules, of course, to adhere to, one being I have to have been alive whilst they played in Claret and Blue, otherwise Sir Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst and Alan Devonshire would be top of the list – alas I missed all those glory years.
So this is the way my favourite West Ham XI lines up…
In goal, number one, “He comes from near Moscow, he plays in goal for West Ham”, it’s none other than Ludek Miklosko. Now this man played for the Hammers in the early 90s and whilst I don’t remember seeing him live, (I was only eight when he left), and to be honest I barely remember what happened yesterday most of the time, the fact a goalkeeper, which let’s face it isn’t the most glamorous position on the pitch is still sung about shows how classy this guy was. Who can forget that famous game at the Boleyn to stop Manchester United winning the title? He then returned as coach for the Irons to continue his love affair with the club. One word can sum this man up, legend.
At left-back, the Terminator, the man, the myth, and the legend, that is Julian Dicks. Unfortunately, I missed this bloke in his heyday, but boy could he play. The way he struck a ball was second to none and he took no prisoners in the tackle too. Now a coach at the club, it is clear this man is West Ham through and through and I have a lot of time for that.
My defensive duo is slightly more recent, and a partnership that would scare the living daylights out of any frontline. Firstly, Thomas Repka, who many thought right-back was his best position. But under Alan Pardew, the Czech international was moved into the centre. Tommy was nuts, but you just had to love him; he was tough in the tackle and the ultimate no-nonsense central defender. You could clearly tell that he loved the club; on his final appearance he left the pitch in floods of tears, which totally went against his character and further endeared himself to the West Ham faithful.
Alongside Repka is current centre-half, Winston Reid. He joined in my first year as a season ticket holder and endured a nightmare start to his West Ham career against Aston Villa at Villa Park, which is arguably the worst debut I can remember. Since then, though under the initial guidance of Sam Allardyce, he has turned himself into the first name on the team sheet and, after all, he did bang in the winner against Millwall – so he goes down as a cult hero just for that in my book.
Right-back is a tricky one as West Ham haven’t really had a top, top right-sided full-back of note in recent years. We have of course had Glen Johnson in his early days, but for me I am going to go modern again and go with one of my cult heroes, Guy Demel. Not the most glamorous of players I know, but he was still a player you could rely on going forward and at the back. Who can forget the role he played in Mo Diame’s goal of the season against United all those years ago with his fancy footwork in the corner with Ricardo Vaz Te? So, for me, Demel slots in at right-back.
Onto the midfield now, and at central defensive midfield, it has to Scott Parker. Any player who dominated the Hammer of the Year award for as long as he did has to make it into my ‘dream team’. Under Zola, he was the man who singlehandedly kept us up, and the season after under Grant, he nearly repeated that trick. His never-say-die attitude got fans off their seat and his leadership was second to none. It said a lot when even the media thought he was club captain when, in fact, that useless so-and-so was Matthew Upson.
Moving out wide now and onto the right-hand side with Tricky Trev himself, Trevor Sinclair. This guy dominates my early memories of West Ham; he was the player that made me want to play right midfield as a boy. Not only did he have a magnificent cross on him, but he scored some absolute beauties too. Another endearing factor about Trevor was he seemed to be a bit of a character in the dressing room, and a bit of banter never hurt anyone and is very important for team morale.
On the left-hand side, another cult hero of mine and a man I have been lucky enough to work with during a short stint at talkSPORT, Matthew Etherington. A genuinely nice guy who scored that wonder goal against Ipswich in the play-offs in arguably one of the greatest night games at the Boleyn. He still loves the club, and in my eyes is the best left midfielder I have seen in Claret and Blue.
In the hole behind the strikers is the young messiah currently plying his trade at Coventry, Joe Cole. A product of the West Ham academy, Cole was an instant hit with the fans as he netted regular goals at a young age. He did, however, leave in a bit of a cloud after the Hammers’ relegation in 2003, but unlike the Jermain Defoe’s and Frank Lampard’s of this world, he didn’t receive much stick and was still welcomed back with open arms. His brief return in 2013 under Allardyce continued his love affair with the club, and he will always be a West Ham great in my eyes.
Up front is a truly skilful duo – these two in their prime would fire West Ham to glory I am sure. Paolo Di Canio and Carlos Tevez. Imagine the goals we would witness. Not much really needs to be said about these two. Di Canio was a man who joined the Hammers in his last chance saloon and was welcomed by the Irons – he made an immediate impact and was quickly loved by the West Ham faithful and after all the controversy had found a home. Still a regular visitor to the Boleyn, it would have been rude to leave the Italian out.
As for Carlitos, you just can’t leave him out. He was probably the first genuine world-class player to join West Ham United. And despite his dodgy start, he turned it on when it mattered and many people say he singlehandedly kept us up that year under Alan Curbishley.
That XI, in my opinion, would give any team a run for their money. Send me your all-time XI’s to @Bowdenwhu or comment below! Come on you Irons!