David Martin is already a hero of mine. He may not have played a competitive minute for West Ham yet but the way he gracefully guided the ball into his own net to deny Millwall a spot in last season’s FA cup quarter-final was a moment I won’t forget in a hurry.
In short, it was hilarious. It was March 17, there were just seconds left on the clock at the Den, the Lions were 2-1 ahead and somehow Wembley bound.
So when Brighton’s Solly March looped his last-chance-saloon free-kick into the South London sky, my heart dropped as it was clearly over hit and headed straight for the keeper.
But son-of-Alvin, as if guided by his dad’s voice whispering ‘let it in’, inexplicably flapped at the cross and it flew straight into the net.
Of course the lifelong Hammers fan was gutted after the game and I’m sure there are very few out there who would choose club rivalry over the chance to play in an FA Cup semi-final.
After the game, Millwall manager Neil Harris was quick to leap to Martin’s defence and gave him a glowing review.
‘First and foremost, I feel for Dave Martin. He is a top pro and one of the nicest guys I have ever come across in football as a player, coach or manager,’ Harris said.
‘David is obviously devastated. He’s made a slight error of judgement and it has cost us but he walked in, put his hands up and said he let the boys down. He’s a great character and very popular in the dressing-room, so he’ll recover.
‘He was excellent today, he absolutely commanded his box and made some outstanding saves.’
And looking back, Harris was absolutely right. Martin was excellent in that game and – until the late error – it was really annoying me.
So I think it is safe to assume – providing one can pay heed to the words of a Millwall manager – West Ham have signed a talented, experienced and professional goalkeeper who also loves the Hammers.
Oh and his dad also happens to be one of the club’s greatest ever servants. If Carlsberg made back-up goalkeepers right?
When the club announced the 33-year-old had signed on a free transfer, a clearly jubilant Martin had this to say: ‘Signing for West Ham United is a dream, both for me and my family. I’ve grown up around West Ham and to come to my boyhood club is a dream.
‘I came as a kid as one of the supporters at the Boleyn Ground. I loved watching my dad, and I’ve continued coming to games throughout my career.
‘You can see the impact the fans have on the team and it gives you goosebumps. West Ham fans are brilliant and it’s fantastic to be a part of this great club.
‘I’ve always been enthusiastic and positive and I’ll go into training every day with the attitude to compete with Lukasz (Fabianski) and Roberto.’
In a shrewd piece of business, the Hammers picked up another experienced keeper on a free in the shape of ‘Roberto’ Jimenez Gago.
The 6ft 4in Spaniard is also 33 and has represented some well-known clubs since he graduated Atletico Madrid’s academy in 2005.
He had three separate spells with Atletico sandwiched between periods with Benfica, Olympiacos and Espanyol to name just a few.
He played 34 times for Malaga during the 2017/18 season but made just six appearances for Espanyol last season.
But, despite his recent lack of game time I am reliably informed from within the club the Spaniard will be Fabianski’s number two and our keeper for the cups.
It is also worth noting 20-year-old prospect Nathan Trott has been loaned out to AFC Wimbledon.
The young keeper is rated by West Ham’s staff but has been sent on loan to give him some ‘proper football experience’ — which he’ll certainly get in League One — and also to prove he can cut it in the men’s game.
All in all, things are looking good between the sticks for the Hammers — so let’s just hope the players in the other ten positions are up to scratch too.