West Ham All-Time Premier League XI – Center Back

James Collins, West Ham. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
James Collins, West Ham. (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images) /

A talented Academy product, a FA Cup Winner, and the one and only “Ginge” round out the centre back position in the West Ham All-Time Premier League XI.

West Ham fans from around the world were asked to vote and determine the players to be in West Ham’s All Premier League side. Some players were shoe-ins to make the squad while the debate raged heavily for other positions within the team.

In order to have been eligible to make this team, a player must have played for West Ham for at least one season during the Premier League era. Therefore, legends such as Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, and Billy Bonds were ineligible to make this team.

With the help of our friends at American Hammers Network and COYIrons, along with 8,500 West Ham fans, a full squad was chosen. This week’s instalment will focus on the fullbacks to make the squad. To see the positions we have announced before, see below:

Goalkeeper: Starter – Fabianski; Bench – Miklosko

Fullback: Starters – Dicks, Potts; Bench – Johnson

Starting Center Back: Rio Ferdinand

  • Joined West Ham: Academy product, age 14
  • Debut: May 5, 1996
  • Hammer of the Year: Winner (1998)
  • 142 appearances

Before being scouted by club legend Frank Lampard Sr., Rio Ferdinand was courted by many teams throughout England, including QPR, Charlton, Millwall, and Chelsea. He eventually chose West Ham and joined the Academy at age 14.

Rio Ferdinand, West Ham.
Rio Ferdinand, West Ham. Credit: Nick Wilson /Allsport /

The tall, slender, and smooth centre back attracted top scouts from across the country due to his raw athleticism, composure, and balance while on the ball. He had the ability to gracefully cover every blade of grass from such a young age, all skills he attributes to taking ballet lessons for many years during his youth.

These skills resulted in a talent that many of the top clubs were interested in. Manchester United – the team Ferdinand would go one to make 455 appearances for – made an enquiry into the purchase of Ferdinand as early as 1997 when Ferdinand was only 18-years-old.

Ferdinand would end up making his first-team debut in May 1996, before going to Bournemouth on loan the following season. The 1997-98 season would be the first that Ferdinand would play for the West Ham first-team from start to finish. Ferdinand impressed throughout the season, eventually winning the coveted Hammer of the Year award in 1998.

Ferdinand would go onto play two more seasons for West Ham before being sold to Leeds United. He was sold for £18 million, a then British transfer record and a world-record fee for a defender.

Starting Center Back: Alvin Martin

  • Joined West Ham: Apprenticeship, 1974
  • Debut: March 18, 1978
  • Hammer of the Year: Winner (1980, 1982, 1983)
  • 596 appearances – 5th most in club history

Alvin Martin is from Liverpool, and Everton was his boyhood club. However, the Toffees did not think highly enough of the defender and Martin came to London looking for a trial with a professional club.

After an unsuccessful trial at QPR, West Ham offered him an apprenticeship in 1974, the only club to do so. Martin rose through the ranks of the Academy and eventually made his club debut in March 1978.

Despite multiple relegations, Martin always stayed with the club, citing the club’s loyalty to him when they were the only club to offer him an apprenticeship. Martin would enjoy a successful and legendary 18-year senior career with the Hammers – one of the longest-serving players in the club’s history.

A couple of highlights from Martin’s career include a hat-trick scored against Newcastle in April 1986. It was not a regular hat-trick, however, as he scored three goals against three different Newcastle goalkeepers.

Martin was also an instrumental part of the 1980 FA Cup winning side, the last major trophy West Ham has won to this day. He is also only of only two players (Billy Bonds) to have two testimonials with the club.

But arguably the most memorable association Martin has had with the club was when he watched his son David come in as the first-choice goalkeeper in a big match against Chelsea during the 2019-20 season, a match which saw West Ham win and David keep a clean sheet.

Bench Center Back: James Collins

James Collins, West Ham.
James Collins, West Ham.(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) /
  • Joined West Ham: July 2005 (1st spell); August 2012 (2nd spell)
  • Fee: £3.5 from Cardiff City (1st spell); Undisclosed fee from Aston Villa (2nd spell)
  • Debut: September 20, 2005
  • 214 appearances

James Collins, affectionately known as “Ginger Pele”, made not one, but two, debuts for West Ham, as he had two spells with the club that spanned over ten seasons. Collins came over – alongside Danny Gabbidon – from Cardiff City for his first spell at the Boleyn right before the 2005-06 season. He scored his first West Ham goal on Boxing Day, 2005.

He earned a starting spot after Matthew Upson got injured and kept his spot until an injury sidelined him for the second half of the 2007-08 season. After the 2008-09 season, he left for Aston Villa, where he played for three seasons, before joining back up with West Ham.

Collins started off his second spell in East London very well, including a man of the match performance against Aston Villa in his second debut for the club.

While not the most talented or physically-gifted player, West Ham fans adore James Collins. It is for his effort on the pitch and passion he showed for the badge that makes fans feel that way.

Next. West Ham All-Time Premier League XI – Fullback. dark

Collins was at the centre of one of the several dust-ups fans have had with the current board. After over 200 appearances and ten years of loyal service to West Ham, Collins did not receive a testimonial and was notified his contract would not be renewed…via email. Hopefully “Ginge” comes back to the club in some capacity as there truly is just one Ginger Pele.