Over the years, West Ham United have produced some incredible players through their production line.

The likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Joe Cole spring to mind immediately.

That is the main reason why the Hammers are called ‘the Academy of Football.’

This season saw the departure of Kevin Nolan, much to the relief of many supporters. Nolan was the club captain for the past three years before being released at the tail end of the summer transfer window.

Questions were asked as to why manager Slaven Bilic let go a player with a vast amount of top flight experience under his belt.

However, the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder was told he would not be guaranteed first team football, resulting in the ex-Newcastle United man leaving on a free transfer.

So who would replace Nolan as the new captain of the side? Realistically there was only one suitable candidate to fill the captaincy void, and it was not Joey O’Brien! Midfield linchpin Mark Noble was recently named the permanent club captain, and deservedly so.

It’s not often that you see a ‘one club player’ in the Premier League, considering the astronomical fees being paid for players. However, Noble and his academy graduate teammate James Tomkins, look certain to revive a trend that has been witnessed by some fantastic players such as Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

In the 2009/2010 season, Noble became West Ham’s longest serving player and no player in Premier League history has made more appearances than the former England U21 centre midfielder.

This is the man, who has won the Hammer of the Year on two occasions, helped with promotion to England’s top flight through the play-off finals in 2005 and 2012, as well as being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year in 2012.

With a total of 329 appearances under his belt, scoring 37 goals, most of them being penalties, the spot kick king’s work ethic and tenacity in every game he graces the pitch is very underrated amongst the rest of the Premier League.

His leadership in the magnificent victories against Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as the recent win at home to the Magpies, was one of the fundamental reasons why those wins were emphatic.

Even in the two defeats at Upton Park against Leicester City and AFC Bournemouth, Noble almost resurged the comeback.

If Nolan was still leading the team and even if Sam Allardyce remained at the helm, then the Boleyn Ground outfit would never have scored against the Foxes or netted three times against the newly promoted Cherries.

Based on the promising start to the campaign, new style of the play and new goal scoring prowess, the added incentive of an player that knows West Ham inside out makes the Hammers more of a force to be reckoned with because of the 28-year-old’s leadership.



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