When he first arrived at Upton Park off the back of an impressive spell with Livorno in Serie B, Alessandro Diamanti was largely an unknown entity who had it all to do in terms of winning over the West Ham faithful.
Gianfranco Zola barely had a dime to spend considering the club’s less than sustainable ownership, and with very little else going on transfer-wise for West Ham in the summer of 2009, the Italian midfielder really did have a lot to prove.
The team once again failed to delight the fans that much that season, but Alessandro Diamanti nevertheless proved himself a worthy servant throughout the troublesome campaign. He finished second, behind an obviously first placed Scott Parker, in the annual Hammer of the Year vote and became a largely favourable figure for his passionate style and captivating entertainment value.
The new no. 32 didn’t last too long in the east end however, as with his countryman Zola being shipped out by the new owners come the end of the season, the now 31-year-old returned to Italy in order to guarantee himself more first team football at a club that recognised his talents fully.
Brescia eventually became that club, but since then the curly haired maestro has represented Bologna, Chinese outfit Guangzhou Evergrande, and now Fiorentina, as well as the Italian nation team during Euro 2012.
With West Ham looking to shake-off the shackles of the many complaints that have come the team’s way since Sam Allardyce’s appointment, Alessandro Diamanti could in-fact prove to be the perfect re-signing for the Hammers throughout the approaching summer window.
Yes – he didn’t quite fulfil his potential first time around, and yes, the club may still even be owed money from his transfer away to Brescia in 2010 – but with all things considered – Diamanti remains a West Ham player that many would potentially love to see back at Upton Park.
The ever-passionate Italian was an entertainer, plain and simple. He was just the kind of player Hammers fans have grown to love at Upton Park throughout the club’s history – someone with skill, someone with desire, and someone not scared to attempt the impossible.
Diamanti used to take shots from within his own half. He would often prove an expert on set-pieces, and although many have accused him of being wasteful during his stint at West Ham, his overall contribution far outweighed any negatives than may have come with him.
For his style out on the pitch and the captivating passion he shared with the fans – the attacking playmaker inevitably saw comparisons drawn between himself, and the one and only Paolo Di Canio. Whilst any Italian that has since played in the claret & blue after Paolo has seemingly been touted as the next Di Canio – including the somewhat forgettable Davide Di Michele – Alessandro Diamanti was nevertheless worthy of such a title.
The HOTY runner-up simply ended his Upton Park career with unfinished business. The majority of West Ham fans were looking to see more from the enigmatic Italian in the new season, and especially as the likes of Radoslav Kovac were somehow kept on in his place, his departure just seemed that bit too premature.
Whilst Diamanti remains contracted to the Chinese club Guangzhou for now, his recent loan move to Fiorentina may indicate that his real calling is back in one of Europe’s more competitive leagues.
The Italian may not be everybody’s favourite or even remembered at all by some West Ham fans these days – but as the man himself has previously expressed his regret over leaving the Premier League so early – perhaps it’s time that someone within the club was big enough and bold enough to give Alessandro Diamanti a second chance in the east end.