As well as producing future England stars through their famed academy, West Ham are also perhaps more infamously known for their more comical signings, especially under the tenure of Harry Redknapp. Without further delay, here are my top ten;
Harry Redknapp is often known for his shrewd dealings in the transfer market. What is less known is that for every stellar signing at West Ham, Redknapp also made a howler, and his signing of Dutchman Marco Boogers falls into that category. Apparently Redknapp had the option of either signing Marcus Stewart or a striker he hadn’t actually ever seen play in the form of Boogers. Redknapp went for Boogers in a £1m transfer. What followed were 4 substitute appearances, including a sending off for an outrageous challenge on Gary Neville within 90 seconds of coming on, followed by Boogers disappearing to a caravan site and being declared mentally unfit to be a footballer. He reappeared 2 seasons later playing for RKC Waalwijk.
Having signed for a club record fee of £9m in January 2009, the then 19 year-old Ugandan-born German national was touted by West Ham’s then technical director Gianluca Nani as the next big thing. The problem was, he wasn’t, and even if he was, West Ham didn’t let him hang around long enough to find out, selling him to Fiorentina for around £6m in the summer of 2009. That’s a £3m loss over 6 months. Mind you, West Ham will get 50% of any sell-on fee, and managed to get Manuel Da Costa out of the deal.
CARLOS TEVEZ/JAVIER MASCHERANO
The Carlos Tevez aspect of this may be slightly controversial considering, according to UK Law, he single handedly kept West Ham in the Premier League to the tune of £30m. But bearing in mind in the season prior to the arrival of the Argentinean duo, West Ham had come within a Steven Gerrard screamer of winning the FA Cup and had finished 3 points away from a European place in the league and the whole affair is put in perspective. Enter Kia Joorabchian with Tevez and Mascherano in the summer of 2006. Having upset the balance of the team so much that manager Alan Pardew, who job seemed fairly secure prior to their arrival, was sacked in December 2006, Mascherano subsequently left for Liverpool in January and Tevez, who for most of the season struggled to find form, found himself as a talisman towards the end of the season. Considering the trouble his arrival caused, the least Tevez could do was score 7 goals in 9 games at the end of the season to keep the Irons up. However, the effects of this transfer resonate long after Tevez’s departure as the club is still having to pay compensation to Sheffield United.
Signed at around the same time as fellow Romanian Ilie Dumitrescu, Raducioiu flattered to deceive with his performances. Catching the eye during the 1994 World Cup he was snapped up by Redknapp in the summer of 1996, with the then West Ham manager noting the striker was aptly-named because his displays for the club were “worth about two bob”. After clashing with Redknapp because he had gone shopping with his girlfriend on a match day, the Romanian was soon on his way back to Espanyol having only made 14 appearances for the Hammers.
A fabulously talented Portuguese international winger, Futre made his name playing for Atletico Madrid. When he signed a one-year contract at Upton Park in 1996, no one had told the then West Ham manager Harry Redknapp that Futre would only play in his beloved number 10 shirt, problem was, that shirt already belonged to John Moncur, even though Futre had it written into his contract that he must have the number 10. What ensued was a Portuguese paddy, followed by Futre bribing Moncur with the promise of holidays at his villa in the Algarve. Moncur courteously accepted, Futre had his number 10 shirt and saw out his one-year contract with West Ham, making only 10 appearances. Remarkably Futre and Redknapp still reportedly keep in touch.
I feel very harsh including Mauricio in this list, but alas, his free transfer from Spurs in 2004 was a nightmare for both player and club. Lining up against West Ham’s bitter rivals Millwall on his debut, Taricco lasted 27 minutes before tearing his hamstring. The Argentinean then offered to cancel his contract at West Ham, effectively going into retirement. West Ham manager at the time Alan Pardew noted that; “This is one of the most honest acts from a player I have experienced in all my years in the game”. Taricco is now the assistant manager at Brighton and has registered as a player wearing the number 27 shirt, perhaps in honour of the number of minutes he lasted as a West Ham player.
One of Billy Bonds final acts as West Ham manager was to secure the signature of Joey Beauchamp. Signed from Oxford United in 1994 for £1.2m, Beauchamp was heralded as one for the future. He may well have been, but just not at West Ham. Citing the daily commute from Oxford as the principal problem, Beauchamp decided to call it quits having never donned the claret and blue in a competitive fixture.
This transfer could still turn out to be a dream as Dyer is still at the club, but it is seemingly highly unlikely. Injury prone even prior to his £6m move from Newcastle in 2007, Dyer subsequently suffered a double leg break in a League Cup tie against Bristol Rovers in August 2007, and in 4 seasons for the club, has only featured in 24 games. On a reported salary of £83,000 per week including image rights, West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan suggested Dyer follow Dean Ashton into retirement.
He was a loan signing, what could possibly go wrong? For me after scoring the winner at White Hart Lane he could do whatever he wanted, but, alas, this wasn’t the case for Harry Redknapp and after 9 games he was sacked by the then West Ham manager after missing training because of a night out on the sauce.
I was a huge fan of the Chilean when he played for West Ham from 1998-2001, but the nightmare side of him came when he disappeared. No one at the club had any idea where he was, and around a month passed before his whereabouts were known and he turned up back in his native country. Needless to say this signalled the end of his career at the east London club. Having opened his own hotel in Chile he has said any West Ham fan can stay there for free. He has also appeared on a reality TV show in his native country and now owns Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet’s armoured car. Nice.
So, that concludes my top ten, there are many more, so if you feel I have missed out anyone, feel free to add to the list.