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Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day.

And to mark the occasion here is a selection of some Irishmen who have represented the club throughout the years.

Happy St Patrick's Day! The Irish Hammers throughout the yearsNoel Cantwell

Cantwell was signed by West Ham from Cork Athletic in 1952 as an enterprising 18-year-old full back. Cantwell spent 8 years with the club, the high being captaining the side to the Division Two championship in 1957-58, leading the club to their first appearance in the top flight of English football since 1932.

Cantwell was part of a group of senior players who would help influence the youth team players who would form the core of both West Ham and England’s successes in the 1960’s. Cantwell’s performances caught the eye of Matt Busby, who was looking to rebuild Manchester United following the Munich air disaster.

Busby paid £29,500, a then record fee for a full back, to bring the Cork man to Manchester, Cantwell went on to captain United to the FA Cup win in 1963 and was club captain when they won the league title in 1967, although injury restricted him to only 4 appearances in the title-winning season.

Cantwell was famed for his composure on the ball and was regularly played in a variety of positions for his country, most notably centre-forward, which was a contributing factor in his impressive international goal tally of 14 goals in 36 appearances for the boys in green.

After his playing career ended Cantwell moved into football management and enjoyed a successful tenure at Peterborough United in the 1970’s and coached in the USA later in his career. Cantwell passed away in 2005, both Manchester United and West Ham observed a minute’s silence before the games following the Irishman’s death, a sign of the esteem he was held in at both clubs.

Liam Brady

Unquestionably one of the Republic of Ireland’s greatest ever players, Brady joined West Ham from Italian side Ascoli for £100,000 in March 1987. Brady’s career started at Arsenal where he made his league debut in October 1973 aged just 17, Brady was to become one of Arsenal’s greatest players, appearing in 3 consecutive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980.

Brady moved to Juventus in the summer of 1980, winning two Scudetto titles moving on to Sampdoria, Inter Milan and finally Ascoli.

Although in the twilight of his career when he joined West Ham, his skill and guile were plain for all to see, he was a member of the squad that was relegated in 1989, Brady played one more season in Division 2 and finally retired from playing at the end of 1989-90 season.

Brady played 70 times for the Republic, scoring 9 times, his last goal for his country was the winner in a 1-0 defeat of Brazil in May 1987 in Dublin. Following the end of his playing career, Brady had unsuccessful spells in charge of Celtic and Brighton, he went on to forge a successful career within the Arsenal Youth Academy.

Chris Hughton

Signed by Billy Bonds as cover for Julian Dicks in November 1990 from Tottenham, the reliable full-back represented the Hammers on 43 occasions and contributed to the FA Cup run in 1991 and the club’s promotion to the First Division the same year.

Hughton became the first non-white player to represent the Republic in 1979, he qualified through his Irish-born mother. Born in Forest Gate, Hughton said of his move to West Ham “In a sense, it’s like going home, I was born 10 minutes from the ground. My Mum and Dad still live there”

Hughton was a member of the Republic’s Euro ’88 and Italia ’90 squads and following his retirement from playing also served his country as Assistant Manager between 2003 and 2005. Hughton played 53 times for the Republic between 1979 and 1991.

David Kelly

Signed by John Lyall for £600,000 from Walsall in the summer of 1988 as a replacement for the outgoing Tony Cottee, Kelly struggled to find form in a struggling team and as such had a largely unsuccessful time with the Hammers.

Prolific in the lower leagues for Walsall, Kelly only found the net 6 times in his first league season which saw the Hammers relegated in 1989, he didn’t fare better in his second season where he only scored 2 goals in 24 games. After two seasons of underachievement, Kelly moved on to Leicester for £300,000 in March 1990.

Kelly qualified to play for the Republic through his Dublin-born father and scored a hat-trick on his debut against Israel in 1987. Kelly is perhaps most famous for scoring the goal that sparked the Lansdowne Road riot in 1995, leading to the game being abandoned.

Kelly played 26 games for the Republic, scoring 9 times.

Gary Breen

Signed on a free transfer after impressing for the Irish at the 2002 World Cup, Breen struggled to find any form at the Hammers and left the club shortly after the relegation of the 2002-03 season, having featured in only 18 games.

A tall rangy centre-half very much in the style of then-manager Glenn Roeder, Breen was brought in to help the club build on the very promising 7th position in Roeder’s first season in charge.

The team did not start, well throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Arsenal being significant as West Ham did not win a home game until January. The crowd quickly turned against Breen who often appeared hesitant and lacking confidence, a far cry from the dominant performances displayed by Breen in South Korea and Japan.

Breen left the club on a free transfer at the end of the ill-fated season joining Sunderland. Breen played 63 times for the Republic, scoring 7 goals.

Originally published at moorethanjustaclub.com

Post written by Ciaran Judge
for Moore Than A Club, Blog: moorethanjustaclub.com, Twitter: @MooreThanAClub

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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