Name: Martin Allen
Date of birth: 14 August 1965 Reading, England
Position: Midfielder
Debut: Division Two, West Ham United 3-2 Plymouth Argyle, 26 August 1989
Last game: Premier League, West Ham United 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur, 26 August 1995
Appearances: 232
Goals: 34


From the moment he scored on his West Ham United debut against Plymouth Argyle, Martin Allen was always going to become a Hammers hero.

The combative midfielder had enjoyed a successful five-year spell at Queens Park Rangers before making the move across London to the Boleyn Ground for £670,000 in the summer of 1989.

A member of the famous footballing Allen family - his cousin Paul famously won the FA Cup with West Ham in 1980, while cousin Clive later joined him in east London - Allen developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense player who was tough in the tackle.

Those attributes quickly saw him win a place in the hearts of West Ham supporters who, although they have been brought up on a feast of attacking football, also enjoy watching players who give 100 per cent at all times.

That was certainly true of Allen, who assumed the nickname 'Mad Dog' for his tenacious approach to the game.

The midfielder announced his arrival with three goals in his opening five appearances in claret and blue. During six years with the club, he would net more than 30 in 200-plus appearances in all competitions.

Following his departure to Portsmouth for £500,000 in summer 1995, Allen enjoyed a successful managerial career, starting out as an assistant to future Hammers boss Alan Pardew at hometown club Reading.

From there, 'Mad Dog' moved back into London to take charge at Barnet and then Brentford, twice taking the latter to the League One play-offs and the FA Cup fifth round.

Following stops at MK Dons, Leicester City and Cheltenham Town, Allen has recently assumed the role of scout at Queens Park Rangers, while also fulfilling media commitments for radio stations BBC London and 5 Live.

That role saw Allen return to his old stomping ground for the recent Barclays Premier League meeting with West Bromwich Albion.

"I was back working for 5 Live doing some commentary, which was good. I brought my son Charlie along and we enjoyed some pie and mash around the corner before the game. Now I'm just trying to do some punditry work and it's been good," he confirmed.

"I'm not really missing the dugout to be honest. I've been working really hard to set up a new company with lots of managers and coaches which will be launching next year. It's been a good project to be involved in, but I'm still trying to work out how to turn on a computer, which has been a challenge.

"I do still love coming to football matches and maybe another opportunity will present itself in the future but, for the moment, I'm enjoying doing what I'm doing."

Allen said the welcome he received on his most recent visit to the Boleyn Ground showed his special bond with West Ham supporters was as strong as ever.

"It's the way I get treated by the people when I do come back which makes it special. I went to the Arsenal game a few weeks ago at the Emirates and when you meet people who recognise me and watch their faces brighten up, it is a nice feeling.

"When I come back, from the people in the car park and walking round the place, it is nice to come back. When I do come back, it is very, very special."

Allen admitted that the club's recent on-field struggles had left him feeling down, but that he retains faith that the Hammers will endure whatever challenges are placed in front of them.

"No-one can take away from me my time here, whatever happens to the club. The whole game of football has moved on to a totally different level to when I was here.

"Of course, I want West Ham to do well. I still know and get on very well with people that work at the club.

"When I was at the Emirates, my ticket was actually in with the Arsenal supporters. The West Ham supporters were sat about five yards away from me and I was desperate to get in with them, but the police wouldn't let me.

"When West Ham were getting close to scoring, I was the only one jumping up and down urging the ball to go in and cheering when Robert Green was making those magical saves just in front of where I was sitting.

"I was sitting there visualising the goal I scored in our 2-0 win over Arsenal in April 1994. Sitting near the West Ham supporters, it reminded me what it must have been like for them watching that goal go in. It must have been special!"