Many remember the two big names on display back in 1999 as our youngsters smashed six past Coventry on a magnificent night at Upton Park to win the FA Youth Cup. But aside from Michael Carrick and Joe Cole, what did the rest of the side achieve in their careers?
Up first is Stephen Bywater who was between the sticks that night, and the ‘keeper is still plying his trade in League One. He burst onto the first team scene following a broken leg to Shaka Hislop in the ding dong 5-4 victory over Bradford City in 2000.
A series of loan spells followed before nailing down a starting berth following our relegation in 2003. He went on to make 59 appearances before joining Derby permanently in 2006. The 37-year-old has also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Doncaster Rovers, Kerala Blasters in Malaysia, and now looks set to retire at Burton Albion. Adam Newton, Izzy Iriekpen, Sam Taylor, Terrell Forbes and Stevland Angus made up a five-man defence.
Newton’s career didn’t quite live up to the hype and he spent most of his time in the third and fourth tiers of English football enjoying the majority of his career at Peterborough United, making 218 appearances for the Posh. He played a season with Brentford in 2008-2009, winning League Two during his time at the Bees.
He then moved to Kenilworth Road in 2009 for a couple of seasons playing for Luton Town before Newton ended his career at Woking appearing 154 times for the Cards. As for the brilliantly named Izzy Iriekpen, the now 36-year-old only appeared on a football pitch 199 times over his 11-year career, with the majority of it spent in Swansea, where he made 123 appearances in South Wales.
During his four-year career at Swansea, he helped the Swans to promotion from League Two. Clearly missing donning claret and blue, he joined Scunthorpe United in 2007. He was given the captain’s armband in 2008, but after a season with Iron, he decided to take up an opportunity at Ashton Gate.
After finally sealing a contract with Bristol City in 2009 he made nine appearances before leaving for personal reasons. He finished his career with Hamilton Academical in Scotland making just two appearances.
He also had a stint in jail after an altercation with a bouncer in 2015 and he was sentenced to three years in prison. Iriekpen failed to make a single appearance for the Hammers.
Left-wing back Taylor’s career never really got going at Upton Park and elsewhere, but he has found a home in East London fronting up the West Ham United foundation after collecting his UEFA B coaching licence.
Terrell Forbes, who also failed to make a full debut for West Ham United, enjoyed something of a journeyman career, fluttering around League One and League Two before finishing his career in the lower leagues. Forbes will be best remembered at Queens Park Rangers and Yeovil Town. The Southwark-born man helped QPR to the League Two Play-Off final in 2003, only to lose out to Cardiff City, but sealed automatic promotion the following season.
He made 163 league appearances at Yeovil suffering Play-Off heartbreak for a second time when losing to Blackpool while playing for the Glovers. He ended his career in the Isthmian League with Whyteleafe. The final piece of the defensive puzzle was Stevland Angus.
The Westminster-born man’s closest taste of first-team action in claret and blue came in the memorable Intertoto Cup success in 1999 in what turned out to be a memorable year for West Ham. Despite high hopes for him in the Hammers camp he ended up being released in 2001. Angus then signed a contract with Cambridge United making 135 appearances for The U’s.
But, after falling out of favour at the Abbey Stadium, he joined Hull City in League One and Scunthorpe United in League Two on loan playing his part in helping both sides to promotion in the process albeit only making 12 combined appearances. He is now plying his trade as a teacher in Brooke House Sixth Form College. The best thing I have found out about Angus is the brilliant Stevland Angus Football Manager Appreciation Society, if you have a spare minute check it out on Youtube.
In midfield was where the Hammers shone with the aforementioned Carrick and Cole stealing the show at Upton Park in the second leg, and everyone you speak to who went that night have said they were the obvious ‘special talents.’ But let’s look at Richard Garcia, Bertie Brayley and Michael Ferrante who made up the rest of the XI.
Brayley was tipped to be a big star after scoring in both legs of the Youth Cup final in 1999. But the Basildon-born forward failed to live up to the hype and yo-yoed around the lower levels of English Football. He played for no fewer than 36 clubs, before finally hanging up his boots in 2016 at Canvey Island. His longest stay being at Chelmsford City where he made 70 appearances scoring 21 goals in a two-year stint in 2007-2009.
As for Richard Garcia, a hot prospect from Australia, he made just 16-appearance for the Hammers before enjoying good spells with Colchester and Hull City before returning home to Oz playing for Melbourne Heart, Sydney FC and Perth Glory with an unsuccessful period in America sandwiched in-between.
Lastly, Michael Ferrante: ‘Who?’ I hear you ask. I have no idea either. A brief Google search will tell you he has enjoyed the majority of his career in his native Australia with Melbourne Victory and the New Zealand-based ‘A’ league team Wellington Phoenix the most famous clubs the forward has turned out for.
So, there you have it, a little blast from the past. Joe Cole and Michael Carrick are the bright stars from that winning 1999 Youth Cup team, but it is nice to see some enjoyed a relatively successful lower league careers. As for Carrick, if you didn’t know, he is now working alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford as part of the Norwegian’s coaching staff. And Joe Cole is most often seen as a TV Pundit on Sky and BBC but he has revealed he would love to get back into the game as a coach in the future.