When Avram Grant said in 2010 that West Ham were about to sign a star from that summer’s World Cup, all Hammers fans were hoping for a genuine star or a rough diamond that could be moulded into a world-class talent.
Then we were told the player in question played for New Zealand. Ah. The ‘star’ we signed turned out to be Winston Reid – not quite the superstar from Spain or Germany that we wanted. Like most fans, I hadn’t heard of Reid. But to be fair the All Whites had a decent tournament. They didn’t qualify from their group, but they got an incredible 1-1 draw with the reigning champions Italy.
They amazingly finished third in the group, rooting Italy to the bottom of Group F. This was a great achievement, considering they were meant to be the whipping boys of the group. Reid’s first competitive match was against Aston Villa. The defender, like most of the other players in the team, were very poor in that opening day 3-0 defeat in August 2010.
That season was a disaster for Reid and West Ham who eventually finished bottom. It was a tough first season in English football for Reid, he only made seven appearances in the Barclays Premier League and what we did see of him didn’t promise much. But maybe the Championship would be more suited to him. And so it proved to be.
He was excellent throughout the whole season and proved he could cut it in a physical and demanding league. His goal against Millwall will make him a Hammers legend forever. His defensive partnership with James Tomkins was vital in the team only conceding 48 goals, one of the best in the Championship that season. Since our play-off win against Blackpool, Reid has been one of the mainstays for the club.
He was one of the main reasons why the Hammers kept 11 cleans sheets in the league in our first season back in the Premier League. It wasn’t surprising that Reid was voted Hammer of the Year by the supporters. The 25-year-old polled a convincing 45 per cent of the vote to fend off strong competition from second placed Jussi Jaaskelainen and Mohamed Diame in third.
His resolute displays against the likes of Manchester City, who left Upton Park without being able to score, and European Champions Chelsea, who were defeated 3-1, counted towards our strong start to last season, eventually leading to a 10th placed finish. He has continued his good form so far in the current campaign. We may not be firing on all cylinders up front, but at the back we have been decent once again, apart from top finishing by Sergio Aguero in the defeat to Manchester City and a couple of free-kicks by Leighton Baines against Everton.
Avram Grant was a disaster during his time at West Ham. But he did do one good thing, and that was buying Reid for a knock-down price. What a signing he has turned out to be.