Thursday, May 21

Daily WHUFC News - 21st May 2015

Cole hopes for final flourish

Carlton Cole says he would love to extend his nine-year stay with West Ham United beyond the summer, but admits that might be beyond his control. Whether Saturday's game against Everton proves to be his final run out at the Boleyn Ground in claret and blue or not, the 31-year-old is proud of the impact he has made during his time at the Club. With Sunday's season closer at Newcastle United to come, Cole is determined to help the Hammers end the campaign with a bang. He said: "I haven't been playing regularly, so I just tried to feel my way around the pitch on Saturday. I thought I did well against their two centre backs and I just needed a few knockdowns to help out the midfielders. "I've been through this emotion before, so I don't know what to think at the moment, whether I'm going or staying. I'm just taking it as it comes at the moment because you never know what's coming in football. "Of course I'd like to stay, but this is how things go in football. If I don't, I don't, If I do and I'm still here, I'll be performing to the best of my ability." "I've got a lot of emotions about this club. I've been here for quite a while and am vastly experienced here. I've got a connection with the fans, a connection with the backroom staff and everything. "You could say I'm part of the furniture, but if I'm not here next year I'll wish West Ham good luck and I'll have to carry on with my life."

There is the possibility that the Hammers could qualify for the UEFA Europa League too – something that Cole would love to be a part of.
He added: "Of course it would be nice if I could play in Europe with the Club next year. West Ham deserve to be in Europe, it's a good outfit here especially as we'll be moving into the bigger Stadium as well. "I'm not sure what the fair play league is saying, but it looks like we'll be up there to go into that. You never know with what's going on so we'll wait and see where it takes us."

Oxford leads England U17 to World Cup

Reece Oxford captained England to a place at the FIFA U17 World Cup finals by steering the Young Lions to a penalty shootout victory over Spain in a play-off fixture on Tuesday. With Europe having six places in the finals in Chile, the four semi-finalists in the UEFA U17 European Championship qualified automatically. After England were knocked out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage by Russia at the weekend, they faced a tense play-off against Spain. The 80 minutes yielded no goals, so penalties were required to decide which team would make the journey to South America in the autumn. It was England who showed a nervelessness from the spot, with Oxford netting his own penalty in a 5-3 victory.

Jenkinson called up for Euro finals

Carl Jenkinson has been included in the provisional 27-man squad for England U21s campaign at the European U21 Championship in the Czech Republic next month. The 23-year-old, at West Ham on a season's loan from Arsenal, will aim to round off a successful couple of years in the U21 set-up by tasting success in the finals, which take place between 17-30 June. Should he be selected in the final 23, Jenkinson will meet up with the England squad on 2 June, for warm-up matches against the Republic of Ireland and Belarus prior to jetting out to the tournament,

There, England will face group games against Portugal on 18 June, Sweden on 21 June and Italy on 24 June. The top two in the group will then face a semi-final on 27 June, with the final taking place three days later. Gareth Southgate's men will be targeting a first success at the U21 Euros since 1984. The Young Lions were last finalists in 2009, when a Mesut Ozil-inspired Germany saw them off in the title-deciding game.

Jenkinson himself has ten U21 caps since making his debut at that level in 2013, having previously represented Finland at youth levels.
He also has one senior cap to his name, coming in a November 2012 friendly against Sweden. Meanwhile, Cheikhou Kouyate has been called up for Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Burundi. Senegal begin their qualification campaign on 13 June with the home game against the central African nation, with Namibia and Niger making up the rest of their group. The finals will take place in Gabon in 2017.

Local schools set for Premier League finals

Two sets of school teams will represent West Ham United at the eighth annual Premier League Schools Tournament after beating off fierce competition from other local schools.

St Edwards School will enter in the U11 mixed competition while Brampton Manor Academy will compete in the U13 division for girls.

The Premier League Schools Tournament is all about increasing participation in football for boys and girls, and offers schools nationwide the chance to team up with their local Premier League club. Each of the 20 Premier League clubs stage their own regional competition to select a school to represent them in the finals, which will be held at White Hart Lane on Thursday.

St Edwards School had a bumpy road to the Premier League National Finals. Playing their qualifying tournament in Newham, they were placed in a tough group but they progressed unbeaten to the Semi- Finals where they played last year's winners of this heat Whitebridge Junior School from Loughton. It was a hard fought game which ended in a draw but St Edwards kept their nerve in the penalty shootout which they won 2-1

This meant they progressed to the West Ham United Club Finals Day. After some tough games they found themselves in the Final lining up to face Thameside Primary School from Grays, who had the honour of representing West Ham at the Etihad last season. With a minute to go Thameside were leading 1-0 but a last minute equaliser took the Final to a nerve wrecking penalty shootout. The experience of having faced penalties in their Semi- Final win proved to be the difference for St Edwards's as they held their nerve to win 2-1.

Meanwhile, Brampton Manor Academy has worked with West Ham Foundation for the last two years, working alongside them on their Woman and Girls Programme delivering weekly sessions throughout the school years. Brampton Manor have entered West Ham United Foundation's Club qualifying tournament in the previous three years, losing out last year in the Final to Sydney Russell School. This season, Brampton Manor won the local tournament at Chobham Academy in February, beating Eastbury School in the Final on penalties after drawing 0-0 and finally realised their dream of making it to the Finals at White Hart Lane.

Captain Skye Pinches represents West Ham United Ladies at U13 level, whilst several other members of the team represent local football teams. Skye said "It is a dream to represent the Club I play for and have supported all my life. To show our talents in May against all the other Clubs will be a great memory for life".

An expected 1,000 spectators will fill the seats at White Hart Lane to see the Premier League Schools Tournament champions crowned and presented with a replica Premier League trophy.

All the students participating on the day will receive an authentic Premier League experience - wearing their Premier League club kit, using the Tottenham Hotspur dressing rooms, and walking out of the tunnel to the Premier League anthem, and even having their matches refereed by Premier League match officials.

The Schools Tournament will feature on a special episode of BBC Match of the Day Kickabout airing on 23 May at 7:40am and will then be available to watch on the BBC iPlayer

You can follow news on Twitter with hashtag #plschools.

Teddy Sheringham: Stevenage set to appoint ex-England striker

Stevenage are set to appoint Teddy Sheringham to replace outgoing manager Graham Westley after confirming they are talking to the ex-England striker. Westley's final game in charge was Boro's League Two play-off semi-final defeat by Southend and his contact at Broadhall Way ends on 31 May. It is 49-year-old Sheringham's first managerial job, having been West Ham attacking coach for the last 12 months.
The former Tottenham and Manchester United forward won 51 England caps. Sheringham, the oldest goalscorer and outfield player in Premier League history, had a 25-year playing career, which began at Millwall before spells at Nottingham Forest and Spurs. He spent four years at Manchester United, scoring an injury-time equaliser in their Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in 1999. After returning to Tottenham, spells at Portsmouth, West Ham and Colchester followed before he retired aged 42 at the end of the 2007-08 season. Sheringham will come in to replace Westley, whose third spell as Boro manager is set to come to an end.

After spending three years in charge between 2003 and 2006, he returned to Boro in 2008 following a stint at Rushden & Diamonds, and led the club from the Conference into League One. He left for a brief unsuccessful spell at Preston, and returned to Broadhall Way in March 2013, but could not prevent his side being relegated from the third tier last season. Westley led Stevenage to the League Two play-offs this season, losing 4-2 on aggregate to Southend, and chairman Phil Wallace confirmed the 47-year-old would be leaving at the end of his contract. "Despite the utmost respect and appreciation I have for everything he's done for Stevenage FC, sometimes you have to accept that a business needs to change to refresh itself and evolve," he told the club website. "Sometimes that means management, sometimes it means owners and sometimes it means both."

Sam's home vacated, but don't read anything into it
Filed: Wednesday, 20th May 2015
By: Staff Writer

The Canary Wharf residence that Sam Allardyce has called home for the last few years will be vacated this weekend.

By the time West Ham kick off against Newcastle at James Park on Sunday afternoon Allardyce is expected to have moved out of his London home, leading to yet more speculation that the manager is on his way out of the club following Sunday's final game of the season at Newcastle.

However a spokesman for West Ham told the Standard's Ken Dyer today that the move had no bearing on Big Sam's future. "The apartment has been sold," they said. "Sam should have moved out last week but was given an extension. It would be a mistake to read too much into this."

Yesterday another national tabloid revealed that Allardyce had been contacting utility companies to arrange final meter readings ahead of his move. The 60-year-old is set to go on holiday next week, after tying up any loose ends at the club.

Allardyce - and more specifically, his wife Lynne - have been unhappy living in the capital for some time, KUMB understands. The favourite to replace him at the end of the season remains Rafa Benitez, despite the Napoli coach having apparently rejected the opportunity to return to London.

We've waited a long, long time for this
Filed: Wednesday, 20th May 2015
By: Staff Writer

Hull boss Steve Bruce might be forced to eat his words this weekend, should West Ham fail to do his current club Hull City a favour at Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. Twelve years ago in 2002/03, with West Ham on the cusp of relegation, Bruce - then manager of Birmingham City - admitted that he had waited "a long, long time" for the opportunity to gain revenge on the Hammers for denying his then-Manchester United side the Premiership title in the mid '90s.

"I remember losing the league title by drawing at West Ham," he said. "It's still in the back of my memory. I remember how delirious they all were, delighted at the way they denied us. I remember the way they were all whooping away. "They were all there really giving us the big high-fives down the tunnel just after we had lost the league. "I don't bear grudges but I've waited a long, long time for Sunday. I'm looking forward to it immensely. There is a bias in the media towards West Ham, the glamour club from London, and we live with that."

In order to stand a chance of avoiding relegation, Hull must beat Manchester United and hope that Newcastle fail to beat West Ham. Should both win, Sunderland need to take at least a point at Arsenal tonight or at Chelsea on Sunday to be safe.

Mags ban social media ahead of Sunday's clash
Filed: Wednesday, 20th May 2015
By: Staff Writer

Newcastle boss John Carver has banned his players from using social media in the run-up to this Sunday's do-or-die clash with West Ham at St James' Park.

Carver, whose side have taken just ONE point from their last TEN matches revealed he has imposed the 'media blackout' on his players ahead of a game they simply cannot afford to lose.

"I've had a chat with the guys and said try and stay off social media, stay off Twitter, keep off the internet," he said. "If you take your eye off the ball you get punished, and we've got to keep our focus sharp.

"It's still in our hands, and if you want it enough then you can do something about it."

As things stand should Newcastle fail to beat the Hammers on Sunday afternoon, a win for Hull at home to Manchester United would result in the Magpies falling through the trap door for the second time in the last six years.

And regardless of whether or not Newcastle manage to avoid the drop, their supporters have announced plans to stage a sit-in at St James' immediately after the game in protest at owner Mike Ashley's running of the club.

West Ham considering Werder Bremen coach Viktor Skrypnyk as Sam Allardyce nears exit
08:56, 20 MAY 2015
The Ukrainian is a surprise new name in the frame, given the Hammers' preference for a boss with Premier League experience, after transforming Bremen's season
The Mirror

Werder Bremen coach Viktor Skrypnyk has been added to the list of managers being considered by West Ham in their search for a successor to Sam Allardyce. Ukrainian Skrypnyk is a surprise new name in the frame, given the Hammers' preference for a boss with Premier League experience, after transforming Bremen's season. Bremen were bottom of the league when Skrypnyk, 45, took over in October. But they have charged up the table under their former player and go into the final day of the Bundesliga season with a slim chance of claiming a Europa League place. Bremen will put up a fight to keep hold of their little-known but emerging boss. However they could also have to fend off Sunderland who are also considering Skrypnyk as a contender to replace Dick Advocaat if he leaves the Stadium of Light at the end of the season.

David Moyes on West Ham's radar again with Sam Allardyce set to leave this summer
22:30, 19 MAY 2015
The Scot has stated he is staying with Spain's Real Sociedad for next season but the ambitious Hammers believe they can lure him away
The Mirror

West Ham have not given up on landing David Moyes as a replacement for Sam Allardyce. The Irons have had the Real Sociedad boss as their top target for some time with Big Sam set to leave when his contract expires at the end of the season. Former Everton and Manchester United manager Moyes signed an 18-month deal with the La Liga side last November, and has taken them from the relegation zone into mid-table. The Scot insisted earlier this month that he is staying in Spain amid interest from the Premier League. But the ambitious Hammers still believe they can tempt him away if they are unable to agree a new deal with Allardyce. The east Londoners are willing to once again make substantial funds available for new signings this summer as they bid to force their way up the table. Hammers chairman David Gold told fans on Twitter: "We will bring in at least five new players in the summer window."

Those recruits will include at least one new striker, as the club feel injuries and a lack of firepower cost them a place in the top eight. Napoli's ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez has turned down interest from West Ham - because he believes he has a chance of succeeding Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce contacts utility companies as he prepares to leave Upton Park
20:00, 19 MAY 2015
The Hammers boss has seen speculation continue to swirl with regards his future and the trip to Newcastle on Sunday is expected to be his final game
The Mirror

Sam Allardyce has been contacting utility companies giving final meter readings for his London flat as he prepares to leave West Ham.
Mirror Sport understands Allardyce has begun the process of moving out of his 40th floor Canary Wharf apartment ahead of what is expected to be his departure next week following the final game of the season. Hammers boss Allardyce's contract is up this summer and he has already set the wheels in motion to end his stay in his rented accommodation and removal companies have been contacted. Allardyce is due for talks with the board on Monday, once West Ham wrap up their campaign at Newcastle on Sunday. Allardyce looks resigned to his fate and the Hammers have not given up on landing David Moyes as his replacement. West Ham have had the Real Sociedad boss as their top target for some time. He signed an 18-month deal with Sociedad last November and has taken the club from the relegation zone into mid-table and the Scot insisted earlier this month that he was staying in Spain amid interest from he Premier League. But the ambitious east Londoners still believe they can tempt him away and are willing to once again make substantial funds available for new signings this summer as they bid to force their way even further up the table. Hammers chairman David Gold told fans on Twitter: "We will bring in at least five new players in the summer window." Those new players will include at least one new striker as the club feel injuries and their lack of firepower has cost them a place in the top eight.

Hammers wait on OFFICIAL Rafa word
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

West Ham have again made it clear that they have had no OFFICIAL word from Rafa Benitez that he is out of the running to become the club's next manager.

Whilst various media outlets have been reporting an Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio's view that he has turned the club down, a top Irons insider said: "That's all very premature and there seems to be a lot of weight being attached to it although it's not clear why.

"We have heard nothing and we would perhaps expect to ahead of a reporter.!

"Yesterday Jurgen Klopp was taking over t Real but there's been no official word on that or anything else. We won't be doing anything at all until we hear officially."

Bilic not sacked say Besiktas
Posted by Sean Whetstone on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

Besiktas have released a statement on their website this afternoon denying rumours that head coach Slaven Bilic has been sacked. The statement read: "Rumours that Besiktas have sacked Slaven Bilic are false, the board will hold a board meeting today." Reports in the Turkish press claimed that Besiktas had parted ways with Bilic however, the Croatian manager still has a year left on his contract.
Bilic did reveal on TV this week that he expects the board to fire him following the 1-0 defeat against Konyaspor. Besiktas crashed out of the title race following the loss against Koynaspor at the Osmanlı stadium in Ankara. The Istanbul based team take on Galatasaray on Sunday and Bilic will be in charge unless the board decide otherwise following their meeting.

Gold: There is no money to be made from Europa
Posted by Sean Whetstone on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

West Ham Co Chairman David has claimed there is no money to be from the Europa league until you reach the quarter finals.

Speaking via his twitter account Gold said "There is no money to be made from the Europa Cup unless you reach the 1/4 finals. PS. making money is not a sin. dg"

Interestingly UEFA has recently announced it will increase the financial rewards from playing in the Europa League by announcing prize money for the tournament will increase by 65 percent.

At the moment, clubs in the Champions League earn an average of 4 1/2 times as much as those playing in the Europa League, but in the future UEFA will fix the ratio at 3.3:1. Solidarity payments to those clubs who fail to qualify for the group stages will also rise significantly.

This is the current prize fund in Euros for the Europa league this season but this is set to increase by 65% this coming season that West Ham are likely to qualify for.

UEFA Europa League Prize Money Distribution 2014/2015
#NO Stages Earnings
1 First Qualifying round €120,000
2 Second Qualifying round €130,000
3 Third Qualifying round €140,000
4 Play-off round elimination €150,000
5 Base fee for group stage €1,300,000
6 Group match victory €200,000
7 Group match draw €100,000
8 Group winners €400,000
9 Group runners-up €200,000
10 Round of 32 €200,000
11 Round of 16 €350,000
12 Quarter-finals €450,000
13 Semi-finals €1,000,000
14 Losing finalist €2,500,000
15 Winners €5,000,000

Irons join hunt for 'the new Zinedine Zidane'
Posted by Sean Whetstone on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

Yoann Gourcuff has attracted interest from "at least 10" clubs as he nears the end of his Lyon contract, according to his representative. The 28-year-old playmaker has 31 France caps and will become be a free agent at the end of this season. The player has been dubbed "the new Zinedine Zidane"

Gourcuff's lawyer Didier Poulmaire told Le Parisien: "At least 10. "Very few players of Yoann's talent become free agents. In the context of financial fair play, it is an enormous opportunity. I have had interest from very big clubs."

He was named as France Football magazine's French player of the year for 2009 and joined Lyon in August 2010, but injuries have sidelined him for around half of the club's games since. Gourcuff made 19 appearances for Lyon this season, scoring three times and providing five assists. He is also a set piece specialist.

French website StarAfrica.Fr claim that West Ham have expressed an interest in the Lyon playmaker.

Gold set on Europa League
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

David Gold has assured the fans that West Ham will be taking the Fair Play route into Europe and that the club welcome the opportunity to compete in the early stages of the Europa Cup.

The club's co chairman – having listened to the debate among the fans on whether it's a good idea or not said: "We believe we owe it to our fans to take up the opportunity if it presents itself. We see it very much as an opportunity rather than a distraction. "

The Fair Play League is very tightly balanced with England having been guaranteed a place in the Europa League through it next season.

Barring an eventful final day at Newcastle the Hammers will be in Europe next term as Sam Allardyce takes charge of what looks certain to be his last game at Irons boss.

Allardyce moves out of London flat
Posted by Sean Whetstone on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

According to Ken Dyer in the London Evening Standard Sam Allardyce will move out of his Canary Wharf apartment on Friday, increasing speculation that his time at West Ham has come to an end.

Allardyce is due to go on holiday on Tuesday immediately following a board meeting on Monday reinforcing expectations that he will not be offered a new contract by West Ham.

However, a club source said: "The apartment has been sold. Sam should have moved out last week but was given an extension. It would be a mistake to read too much into this."

Hammers deny manager link
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

West Ham have denied that 45 year old Werder Bremen's Ukrainian coach Viktor Skrypnyk is on their wanted list to replace Sam Allardyce.
According to The Sun, Skrypnyk is now very much in the frame but a source inside the club denied the interest to ClaretandHugh this morning. The club are still waiting to see the outcome of the ,Real Madrid managerial hunt in which Rafa Benitez appears to be involved before making their next move. Jurgen Klopp was yesterday reported to have been offered a three year contract at the Bernebeu but this morning there are claims that these were rogue reports.

That may let Benitez back into the running and we were told: "Rafa remains our number one choice and we will do nothing until we discover what is happening in Madrid.

REPORT: Allardyce contacts removal firms
Posted by Hugh5outhon1895 on May 20, 2015 in Whispers

Sam Allardyce has reportedly been contacting utility companies giving final meter readings for his London flat as he prepares to leave West Ham.

Mirror Sport reports Allardyce has begun the process of moving out of his 40th floor Canary Wharf apartment ahead of an expected departure next week following the final game of the season.

According to the report the 60 year old manager has already set the wheels in motion to end his stay in his rented accommodation and removal companies have been contacted.

The Ex-Files: Craig Forrest
Wednesday, 20th May 2015 12:46 by Blair Ferguson

In the 18th part of our regular series, The Ex-Files, Blair Ferguson caught up with giant Town and Canada goalkeeping legend Craig Forrest.

Craig Forrest is one of those players you look at and wonder how he ever managed to make his way into professional football.

Born in British Columbia, Canada, where the main sports were ice hockey and lacrosse, it seemed unlikely that he would make such an impact at a football club so far away from the place of his birth.

It was indirectly through playing lacrosse that the chance came for his first foray into football and the start of his journey to England.

"I was playing in the U13 Canadian Championship lacrosse tournament in Ontario and four or five of the lacrosse guys played in the football team which was a pretty strong side at that age," he explained.

"One of the players – he wasn't a goalkeeper in lacrosse but an outfield player – was the keeper for the football team. He couldn't get back for this tournament because his family was going to do an RV trip across Canada.

"So the team was short and they asked me if I was willing to give it a try even though I'd never done it before. And I did and I was terrible!

"But I enjoyed it at the same time and was intrigued by it and wanted to stay with it and they were happy to keep me on as a back-up when the other guy eventually came back.

"So I worked specifically with a goalkeeper trainer from that age quite heavily and things went well, to the point that when I was 15 I was in the provincial team, and when I was 16 I moved to England."

Until that time Forrest's only other sport was judo, which he thinks helped with "throwing himself about and hitting the deck", and it was the fortuitous meeting with a one-time Town youth player which saw football take him to England.

"I got really good advice from people in British Columbia, primarily a guy called Phil Trenter, who was actually from Ipswich and had moved over to Vancouver," Forrest recalled.

"Phil was great in saying that you need to get over there when you're 16 because you have potential and you want to be signed on potential, because if you go later then you have to be the finished deal which you probably won't be if you stay in Canada.

"So I left school a year early and moved to England and had a trial at Ipswich. I had a trial with West Brom set up and a trial with Dundee United, but I went to Ipswich first and after a couple of weeks they signed me."

Despite speaking the same language, his 1984 move to England was still a culture shock for Forrest, who paid his own way to Ipswich in accordance with the agreement with Town chief scout Ron Gray who set up his trial.

Once signed by Town a period of adjustment began. With communications technology not what they are now, Forrest's mum had to get a job just to pay for the $2 a minute phone calls to her son.

Something which struck the aspirant goalkeeper was the difference in attitude towards young players in England compared to how they were treated in Canada.

The man known as 'Stacks' said: "It was just the way at that age you are playing because it's fun and although you still enjoyed it and it was fun it was also very serious.

"It was a business, you needed to perform, you needed to show up, you needed to be punctual, you needed to be disciplined and all of these things that went along with it.

"Unlike in England where people are generally more honest to the youngsters, here they are always very positive and blowing smoke up people and as a decent athlete everyone is always fairly complimentary.

"You get to that position where you probably aren't the best in town and you're going to get told straight up in England that if you screw around you're gone fairly quickly.

"I think the first time I was ever told that was by Charlie Woods," he said laughing before preparing his finest impression for the former Town coach.

"'Lads you're going to be on the next plane home if you don't get it together!' So it became very serious and that was a little scary at 16."

Forrest heeded Woods's warnings and started to make his way towards the first team via a short loan spell at Colchester in the 1987/88 season where he achieved his goal of playing professional football in England, eventually going on to make 11 appearances for the U's.

Next, at the start of the 1988/89 campaign, came the opportunity to become Ipswich's number one ahead of previous incumbent Jon Hallworth, who was sold to Oldham later in the season. Forrest explains his reaction to finding out the news whilst back in Canada.

"I was feeling pretty good about myself and went home in the summer and got a call from Ipswich when I was in Vancouver that they intended to start me at the start of the season so to be ready.

"So I basically shit myself all summer long, which was fine! But when the Stoke game came along [on the first day of the season] it went really well, not so much the game but the preparation for it in the dressing and the great atmosphere and getting to play at that level, it was terrific.

"You're anticipating it and you're quite nervous, they've made a big decision, so you don't want to let anybody down and these sorts of things are going through your mind."

Even before making that first appearance at Stoke, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Forrest was aware he was stepping into a team that was coming off the back of a glorious era for Town and he outlines the pressure he felt at the club.

"When I arrived at Ipswich they were in the First Division and not many years off winning the UEFA Cup and the FA Cup," he said.

"I came in at a time after the golden generation and Ipswich fans had really high expectations and those expectations were very difficult to live up to because the players had been sold off.

"So those were tough times and it was a tough club to go to at that time because when I got in the first team we were in the second tier with the expectation that we should always be winning and be in the top flight.

"It was different than going to a club that had no history of winning major tournaments, Ipswich were the real deal."

That debut at the Victoria Ground was handed to him by then-boss John Duncan, who he says was "very supportive" and gave him "a lot of belief", but it was his successor John Lyall who he considers to be the best manager he ever worked under.

The former West Ham boss led the Blues to the old Second Division championship in 1991/92 with Forrest ever-present in goal.

He said: "To get back in the top flight where Ipswich deserved to be as a club was great. I would say he was the best manager I ever had. He read the game better than anyone I'd ever seen before.

"Just the way he saw the game as it developed, John Lyall was so far ahead of his day in the way he achieved success with what he had to work with. He just found a way.

"Sometimes he would come in the dressing room and guys would be like 'We should be doing this, why aren't we doing this?' and he would calmly come in, pour his cup of tea and then tell us how we were going to win the game and often he would find a way.

"Even when we went to Manchester United, we drew 1-1 and 0-0. I'm fairly sure in the 0-0 game we didn't even play a striker, he knew that they attacked from the flanks.

"He played Chris Kiwomya in a wide position so we had no strikers and we just stifled them and they ran out of ideas.

"It was amazing that he would come up with ideas and tactics that would actually work and it was the first time I'd seen someone try different things, because it was pretty static at the time with everyone playing 4-4-2, but he changed things round and confused some teams.

"He was terrific and was the major reason that we were promoted. We stayed in the Premier League for three years and they should of never let him go because he managed to keep us up."

Forrest's final boss at Ipswich was George Burley, a manager he thinks learnt a lot at the start of his time in charge as the Blues crashed out of the Premier League.

Talking about this stage of his Town career meant the inevitable discussion of the March 1995 9-0 defeat at Manchester United with some surprising relief on the day for Forrest.

"I enjoyed working under George Burley too, obviously a legendary player at Ipswich, but when he first arrived as manager I think he learnt a lot when he was there with us.

"Going down the road I think he learnt so much and became a great manager. But when he first came to us, like the Man U 9-0, the pre-match talk was 'They wont expect us to attack'. Well yeah, I guess they didn't!

"But after a few years I don't think he would get beaten 9-0 again, he just learned a lot over that period of time as anybody would.

"That game was tough, it keeps coming up especially when the day comes round. I did actually think when the game was being played that it was 10! So I was actually pretty happy they didn't hit double figures.

"It was difficult but as a goalkeeper if you play long enough you're going to get games like that and it's very humbling."

Despite the record-breaking defeat Forrest is adamant that given the opportunity he would go through it all again just to play in the top flight.

"I loved playing in the Premier League and if I had the chance tomorrow to go back to Old Trafford and get beaten 9-0 I would absolutely take that opportunity.

"The stadiums and the atmospheres were amazing and playing at that top level was always my goal, to play in arguably the best league in the world."

Late in his time at Town Forrest had the pleasure of witnessing the rise of a young Richard Wright. You get the impression that Forrest always knew Wright would be the man to replace him.

"A problem for me was going to play international football because somebody comes in, like Richard for instance. I was off playing for Canada and Richard comes in and I get back and they say 'The kid's done well, so we're leaving him in'.

"I understand that, it's a risk that I took and it can cost you and it's just how things work out sometimes.

"I had a really good relationship with Richard, I knew him when he was around 12-years-old and first started showing up at the club. He was the best 12-year-old goalkeeper I'd ever seen!

"I think he could have played in the first team and got through it quite easily at 13-years-old, he was unbelievable, unbelievable.

"I said at the time that this kid will play for England, no question about it and I'm just surprised that he didn't play more. He was a great kid and has a great family now."

With Forrest by now consigned to the bench, in March 1997 the opportunity came for him to join a star-studded Chelsea on loan and he got to experience a feeling he thinks all top keepers have when playing behind a team of stars.

"Mick McGiven – John Lyall's right-hand man – was at Chelsea at the time working as a coach and they had a couple of injuries and they needed some cover.

"Richard Wright was in the first team and Ipswich said that if I wanted to go there on loan then I could.

"It was great, it was amazing. In the first five-a-side I had Vialli was playing, Zola, Franck Leboeuf, player-manager Ruud Gullit, they were a real international team, it was insane and incredibly memorable.

"I would say that playing with that team was the only time in my career when I was behind a team and thought 'How can we possibly lose!'.

"That was the only time I felt that, I thought 'Now I know what it's like to be Iker Casillas or Peter Schmeichel!'. It's a totally different feeling.

"How can we possible lose this game!?" he laughed "Really? We are unbelievably good so we shouldn't lose!"

While he says that he would have stayed at Ipswich for his entire career if he could have, he enjoyed playing for his other clubs.

The opportunity to move to Chelsea on a permanent basis was offered, but the Ipswich board priced Forrest out of a move.

He explains: "Just at the end of my loan spell at Chelsea I had to go to Jamaica to play for Canada and the keepers were still injured and the week after I was coming back they had the FA Cup final.

"Gullit said 'We'll play you in that game and then talk to Ipswich and get the deal done and you can play in the FA Cup final against Middlesbrough'. There was no transfer window back then.

"But Ipswich tried to play hard ball and held them to ransom and Chelsea said 'We won't be held to ransom over the FA Cup final' and I didn't get to play in it.

"Not that I deserved to play in because I didn't play any of the other rounds, but after 13 years at Ipswich I thought 'Really guys? You could have helped me out there a little bit'.

"I spoke to Gullit after the FA Cup final and it was still their intention to bring me in and then one of his countrymen Ed de Goey became available and he saw him in South Africa or something like that and next thing you know I'd missed the boat."

London was still Forrest's destination despite the switch to Chelsea breaking down with the 6ft 5in tall keeper joining West Ham the following July.

"I was disappointed because of how well it went at Chelsea," he added. "But that's the way it works out.

"West Ham was a different opportunity and a club with a different feel from Ipswich because it was in London, it was just different.

"It was a great five years and I really enjoyed it, we had a great run and finished in the top 10 every year so there were no issues there and Upton Park was a fortress for us.

"We didn't have to worry about driving past the Boleyn pub on the corner of Green Street where they would jump on players' cars very often. That was the biggest worry!

"We had terrific characters like John Moncur, Neil Ruddock, Stuart Pearce, Nigel Winterburn, John Hartson, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson, Joe Cole, it was unbelievable the young talent that club had.

"If they could only have kept them together, it would have been something special."

He continued: "Harry Redknapp had a great eye for players. He had no problem bringing in Paolo Di Canio, Neil Ruddock, Julian Dicks, John Hartson and the list goes on of tough characters to deal with.

"He had a knack of doing that which was very interesting, just be able to put a team together and knowing the pieces he needed to put them together."

Forrest enjoyed his time at West Ham but in 2001, while he was negotiating a contract extension, he discovered he had testicular cancer, which would ultimately end his career.

"It was a difficult time, I'm not going to lie," he said. "From a footballing point of view at least I was 35 and I'd been playing for a long time, I didn't want to retire and was sort of forced into it a little bit.

"Prior to getting testicular cancer I was negotiating a one-year extension at West Ham and me and my agent thought we could get a two-year deal because I was only 35.

"This was ongoing and there was no pressure or hurry but then I got testicular cancer and went away.

"When I came back we said that under the circumstances we wanted a two-year deal but I'd accept a one-year deal and prove I can play again and take it from there.

"But they said 'No, the deal isn't on the table any more, we're going to release you'."

This news came as a shock to Forrest who still thought he had more to offer and he felt let down by West Ham because they made it difficult for him to go anywhere else, as he explains.

"I felt disappointed because they backed me into a corner where all of a sudden I was damaged goods.

"Managers wanted to take a chance on me but nobody really wanted to because if something went wrong the warning signs were there and the chairman would go 'You brought in this guy, he just had cancer, what are you doing?' .

"So it put everybody in a difficult position so I wasn't feeling particularly great and I still hadn't gotten over the chemo treatment and the effects of that so I decided to retire."

Having returned to Canada there was an opportunity to make a comeback aged 39 with the fledgling Toronto FC MLS franchise in 2007, and although he attended a trial it was only to see if he could play at a professional level with no real intention of signing for the club.

In addition to his club career, Forrest featured and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in Canadian football's greatest success when he and future Town skipper Jason De Vos lifted – with a small amount of struggle – the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which also got them an invitation to the Copa America.

"It's a big trophy!" he said laughing. "All cups should be massive and weigh about 200lbs!"

"In the programme they had us ranked 12th out of the twelve teams! We thought that was pretty funny and we didn't care.

"That was a great tournament and that also got us in the Confederations Cup in Japan, which was amazing.

"It also got us invited to the Copa America which was unbelievable and I was really looking forward to that, but it was in Columbia and at that time there was a lot of violence and drug cartels threatening to kill everybody and threatening to kill players.

"So our government withdrew us from that tournament so we didn't get to play in that.

"At that time I wasn't sure if we should go because it was really bad. I'd been in South and Central America before and been in positions where I didn't feel the authorities were completely in control of what was going on and I understood why we didn't go.

"But Honduras jumped in our spot, they were like 'It's worse in Honduras than it is there!'. I think they did quite well actually!"

As one of Canada's greatest ever footballers Forrest - he won 56 full caps - it was recently announced that he is to be inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, making him one of only five footballers ever to have been afforded the honour, which is a source of immense pride for a man who loved playing for his country.

"I heard they'd been talking about it and there are only five footballers in the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, two of them are women, so football doesn't get a lot of talk here.

"It was an honour because people recognised me in a culture where football isn't as important as ice hockey.

"I think it was because I played in arguably the best league in the world in a world sport and they saw a lot of value in that. Probably winning the Gold Cup had an effect because there was some exposure. It was a really great honour and I'm very proud of that."

The former keeper, now 47, is a pundit on Canadian television, a role he started preparing for during the 1998 World Cup, and one he is grateful to have because it keeps him in the game he loves.

"I knew there were some opportunities over here to do television and I was preparing myself years before when I did the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, so I got into it a little bit to see if I was any good at it and if I liked it and they liked me.

"Because I had that experience they were open to giving me a full-time position and I took it.

"I really do enjoy it, it's not the same buzz as playing, but there is something about doing live television that keeps you on edge because you don't know what's going to happen next and mistakes are going to happen and you have to do things on the fly. So I enjoy that side of things and it gives me a bit of a buzz that way.

"There are a lot of the professionals that get depression from having their umbilical cord cut from football completely because it's all they know.

"I can understand that and why they get really low. I've never had that happen to me because I've always had a connection to the sport and that has made retiring a lot easier because I'm still involved in the game."


This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.

No comments: