It is the end of an era now that Winston Reid has left the club. I can still remember his debut away at Aston Villa in the league, under Avram Grant and playing right back for the club.
I think it is fair to say that signing Winnie was one of the few things that Grant did right for us during his time here. Now 194 league games and 9 league goals later, he has had his contract mutually terminated by the club Whilst the finances are not fully confirmed, the figures I have heard are that we paid £5m to end his contract when it would have cost £7m for it to last its due course.
Sadly Winston suffered from a back injury in his later years and it was this that was the route cause to all the other injuries he sustained notably his hamstrings and knees. Despite loan spells in America and in a playoff winning campaign with Brentford, he was unable to prove his fitness enough to warrant David Moyes giving him another chance to shine in the Claret and Blue.
I have many fond memories of Winston’s time at the club and I am sure he will be remembered well by the fans, who voted him the prestigious Hammer of the Year in 2013. Reid is a shy and unassuming man who doesn’t act in your modern day stereotypical footballer way, generally leading a quiet life off the pitch.
During his time at the club there was some interest in him from big clubs including Liverpool but those moves never amounted to anything and he remained in the Claret and Blue. There are two goals which really stand out for me from the New Zealand international’s time at the club.
The first one is in our heated derby against Millwall. Frenchman Julien Faubert took out their keeper and Winston finished with a great shot from outside of the box. This goal created a popular chant about putting the ball in the net against our main rivals (with a few words changed). The other special goal was the final goal ever scored at Upton Park and the winner in our 3-2 final game against Manchester United.
It was written in the stars that we would win that game and I am so glad that we did. Winston Reid played a huge role in this and therefore aside from being a top quality centre back at his peak, I will always love him for this moment. At the age of 33, Reid faces a challenge to find himself a new club, especially at the top level.
No doubt he will have to lower his wage demands from what his last contract at West Ham was for but I really do hope he gets one more chance to play in front of us fans whether it be as an opposition player or in a hopefully arranged testimonial game.
These games are awarded to players with 10 years’ service at the club and Winston was there for 11 continuous years. I am sure all West Ham fans will join me in wishing Winston all the best for the future.