Hugh Southon’s Last Word

Zabaleta and Ngakia's exits could not be more different

Some things are almost too wicked to consider and the departures of Zaba and a kid of 19 called Ngakia come as close as it will ever get – Talk about a tale of two right backs!

The ultimate professional – with one of the most distinguished records of any modern footballer – decides not to extend his contract because of an injury which won’t allow him to help the West Ham cause. He then gives an interview in which he makes his love of the club so clear – explaining he will remember his time with us forever.

This from a man who was probably our best ever free signing and who has been devoted to serving us as best and brilliantly as he is able in the twilight of his career. Ngakia? Don’t need to repeat the details.  

Comparing those two situations in an interrupted season when thousands have died and most of us have suffered in the biggest possible way is sickening. Irony can be amusing. In this case it demonstrates the evil and greed of modern football as opposed to old school professionalism and dedication.

Zaba thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Ngakia, I have nothing to say. Whoever is to blame for the kid’s decision has done him no favours whatsoever – four games after a limited academy life is an absurdity. It would have been easier to accept had he not allowed himself to be persuaded not to see out the interrupted season, deciding instead to walk to wherever his next destination will be as soon as possible.

Whatever world we are living in that’s just appalling after being weaned by the club over his youth.   Frankly – and when one looks at Zaba’s attitude and behaviour – it’s as unforgivable as it gets. At the end of the day with Ben Johnson on the way through – and hopefully he can overcome some regular injury worries – we have a guy who ticks all the boxes according to former academy chief Terry Westley.

The now departed youth boss told me: ‘He’s always been seen as the next real Hammers prospect – he has everything – can get forward and knows how to defend.’ In a season when little has gone right we can only hope that the nephew of Paul Parker emerges as the star such a worthy bloke as Terry imagines.

Let’s leave this on a positive. Pablo Zabaleta was brilliant for us and word is that he could end up back at Manchester City as a coach.   I would consider him perhaps our best ever free signing and decided way back to have his name on the back of my shirt. An intelligent and dedicated professional and a proper bloke.

In a footballing world where greed, self interest and ‘stuff the rest of you’ seems to be par for the course I’m proud of the bloke who chose to become a Hammer.

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