Where Are They Now? The West Ham Players Of Yesteryear

Alessandro Diamanti

Having signed for West Ham United in 2009, the Italian’s stay in the East End didn’t last long. He may have played just one season with the Hammers, but what a season it was, with Diamanti bagging an impressive eight goals and five assists. In an otherwise poor team, he offered fans some relief with his quality and goal scoring ability.

Having gone on to represent his country at Euro 2012 where he won a runners-up medal, Diamanti who is now 38 years old; is still playing and now plies his trade in Australia for A-League club Western United.

Marco Boogers

No such list would be complete without taking a look at Marco Boogers – without a doubt one of the worst signings of all time, let alone one of West Ham’s!

A club medical had failed to detect a knee injury before he was signed, meaninghis total lack of pace and any clear scoring opportunities during pre-season shocked and dismayed the Hammers faithful to say the least. At home to Leeds on the opening day of the season, Boogers took the field briefly where his total lack of movement was of clear and obvious concern to all associated with The Hammers.

The Dutchman’s limited English only served to hamper his transition further when he clearly misunderstood manager Harry Redknapp’s touchline instructions, and took it upon himself to commit serious GBH on Gary Neville’s ankle.

Boogers received a four-match ban and would make only two further appearances in the claret and blue of West Ham having been signed off for stress!

Boogers returned home for good having signed for Groningen on loan, but even that went down in folklore after a reporter mistook West Ham’s spokesman when quoted as saying he had travelled back to Holland “by car again”, and headlines such as ‘BARMY BOOGERS GONE TO LIVE IN A CARAVAN’ started appearing! A simple fact-check before going to print would have revealed that Boogers was neither mentally unwell, norliving in a caravan! But then that doesn’t sell newspapers!

With his playing career over, Boogers worked for his hometown club Dordrecht as Technical Director. However even here he couldn’t stay away from controversy – his position under threat after he infamously clashed with then coach Jan Everse in 2015. He was briefly Caretaker Manager in 2005 after Robert Verbeek was dismissed. After returning to his previous role, Boogers left the club for good in August 2017.

In 2007 Boogers was voted number 19 in The Times‘ poll of the “50 Worst footballers to grace the Premier League.’’

Sebastien Schemmel

A former ‘Hammer of the Year’, Schemmel signed on loan for West Ham from Metz during the 2000/01 season, having greatly impressed then West Ham scout Glenn Roeder. “Glenn thought Schemmel was outstanding, one of the best attacking right-backs he’d seen for a long time,” manager Redknapp was quoted as saying.

The 25-year-old made his West Ham debut on 22nd January 2003 in a 1-1 draw at Charlton Athletic. Just six days later, he followed this up by helping the Hammers keep a clean sheet in the infamous ‘Let’s all do the Barthez!’ 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.

By summer 2001, Redknapp had been replaced as Manager by Glenn Roeder, who predictably made Schemmel’s loan move permanent for what turned out to be a bargain fee of just £765,000.

The following season proved to be the best for Schemmel during his time at West Ham, with the virtuallyunknown Frenchman starting all but three of West Ham’s 38 Premier League matches, eventually going in to finish seventh in the league and having scored what was to be his only goal for the Club in a Boxing Day thrashing of Derby County at Upton Park.

Schemmel went on to play just 19 more games for the Club before being reunited with Redknapp at Portsmouth in January 2003. However, his love for West Ham United was solidified when he named his restaurant Luxembourg ‘Upton Park’!

Schemmel is quoted as saying “West Ham was fantastic, to be honest, [….] it was the best moment of my football career. It was amazing to play for these fans and this Club, […] it was a big mistake for me to leave the Club because if I’d stayed there in 2003 and 2004, I’m sure I’d have finished my career with West Ham.’’

Samassi Abou

Disappointingly, and despite the rumours that have been circulating since his retirement from football; ex-West Ham forward Samassi Abou is not a cab driver in Basildon! Another Redknapp special, he signed for the Hammers in 1997 from French side, Cannes. Abou scored a total of six goals in 26 appearances in his first season.

Abou saw out his playing days in his native France, eventually retiring from the game in 2003. Despite this, a bizarre internet rumour started around this time that he had in fact moved back to London and was now working as a bus driver in the Essex town. 

As much as I would love to be able to confirm that this is true, Abou squashed the story, saying, “Somebody phoned and told me that they saw in the newspaper I’m a bus driver in London, Come on? Me a bus driver? The only business I know is football. I also have a fake Twitter page. I find these things funny.”

So we won’t be bumping into him any time soon on the number 86 sadly.

Dani

Daniel da Cruz Carvalho arrived in East London in 1996 aged just 19, with the quite the fanfare. The self-proclaimed Portuguese wonder kid made his professional debut two years earlier for Sporting Lisbon and had already won his first international cap. 

In this latest signing, we had a player who was also a model and who would have slotted straight into the line-up of any of the popular boy bands of the time. More of a lusted-after celebrity than a footballer, Redknapp was famously quoted as saying of Dani, “Even I don’t know whether to play him or f**k him.”

However, beneath the beautiful façade there wasn’t actually a lot of substance, and certainly not the hard work and dedication which was required of any top player of the period.

Clearly more of a playboy than sportsman, he didn’t exactly endear himself to his team mates in the way he had to the media. Lazy and pretentious, training appeared always to get in the way of his A-List lifestyle, and that was on the occasions he actually bothered to turn up!

A mid-season break in Spain sealed his fate when, having been granted permission to leave the team hotel, he then failed to show up for training the following day.  As a result, Dani was demoted to the reserves before having his contractcancelled altogether. 

Somehow he managed to pull the wool over another manager’s eyes, and signed for Ajax, with the media circussurrounding him once more. However, despite being given the coveted number 14 shirt, Dani again fell massively short of his footballing potential, and made just 72 appearances for the club in all competitions.

He went on to squander yet another golden opportunity, under Jose Mourino at Benfica, only amassing five games for the club before moving to Segunda Division side Los Rojiblancos, playing alongside Fernando Torres. Dani did actually achieve some success at this point, helping Los Rojiblancos to win the title in 2001/02. This turned out to be his only achievement of note, as by the end of the following season, his contempt for the sport saw him hang up his boots aged just 27.

Dani resurfaced a few years later, appearing on television and indulging his love of the limelight, eventually given the presenting role on the Portuguese version of Strictly Come Dancing! The overwhelming popularity of the show capitulated Dani back into the nation psyche and he continues to enjoy his celebrity status to this day.

Away from the cameras, he can now be found playing in the Portuguese Legends XI; that is when he can be bothered to turn up!

To be continued…

By Lauren Jayne.

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