Winston Reid arrived on British shores during the summer of 2010 and after the World Cup in South Africa, following the international tournament West Ham fans began to hear rumours over a new signing, a “World Cup star”.
So when it turned out that the 24-year-old Kiwi was the “star”, it failed to excite Hammers fans as not many had seen New Zealand’s games in the tournament, nor followed Reid when he was learning his trade in the Danish Superliga with FC Midtjylland. It’s safe to say that Reid did not have a successful start to life in East London. The manager at the time, Avram Grant, threw the Kiwi in at the deep end by playing him in an unfamiliar right-back position on the first day of the 2010-11 Premier League season against Aston Villa, and he was put to the sword by the likes of Milner and Downing.
Winston went on to play just seven games for the remainder of the Premier League season, adding just five cup appearances to bring a total of 12 games with one goal coming in a 5-1 route against Burnley in the FA Cup. In what was a dismal season for the Hammers that ended with relegation to the Championship, Reid had gone off the radar and not played since February.
Enter Sam Allardyce, who from pre-season games before the beginning of the 2011-12 season saw something in Reid, the potential to become a top centre-back. With Allardyce’s tactics of being defensively strong and building from the back, some worried over Reid’s capability but others saw this as the perfect chance to give him confidence and get him embedded in the English game.
With Abdoulaye Faye brought in and locals favourite James Tomkins battling Reid for the two places in the side, there were ups and downs throughout the season, including a serious shoulder injury and a concussion suffered whilst on international duty. Reid established himself in the team with some very strong performances, capping them off with three goals over the season against Nottingham Forest, an equaliser against Leicester City and a striking volley against Millwall.
That winning goal for the home crowd at the Boleyn Ground against our oldest rivals will live long in the memories of West Ham fans as Reid cemented his place in Irons history. In the last several weeks of our Championship runin Reid was a key player and certainly deserved his place in the line-up against Blackpool on that memorable day at Wembley.
With promotion finally won, West Ham were back in the elite, and Reid had a second chance to prove himself at the top level, which he has done with distinction, making James Collins and Tomkins fight to see who will partner Winston as he is the first defender on the team sheet come match day. Prompting rumours about his future at the club, Allardyce insists Winston will be staying and is planning to sign a new contract to deter the likes of Newcastle and Everton, respectively, who appear to have shown interest in the Kiwi.