Name: Robbie Slater
Date of birth: 22 November 1964, Ormskirk, England
Position: Midfielder
Debut: Premier League, Nottingham Forest 1 West Ham United 1, 26 August 1995
Final game: Premier League, West Ham United 2 Southampton 1, 24 August 1996
Appearances: 29
Goals: 2

As a respected football pundit in his native Australia and a Premier League title winner, ex-West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers midfielder Robbie Slater knows a thing or two about football.

Now 46, Slater's famous flame-coloured hair has now turned a more sedate shade of grey, but the tenacious one-time Socceroo still has plenty of passion for the beautiful game.

"I have worked for Fox Sports Australia for nearly a decade now and it's brilliant. It's certainly better than being a coach, because they seem to age ten years to every one!

"Not many players get the chance to do what I do and I'm very fortunate. It's become a second career for me after playing and I was lucky that they thought I'd be the perfect person as I was born in England and, of course, also played over there in Europe at the highest level."

Before joining West Ham in August 1995 in a deal that saw winger Matty Holmes move to Blackburn, Slater had enjoyed successful spells in Belgium, France and England.

After helping RC Lens to promotion to the French First Division in 1991, Slater, who had moved to Australia as a child, transferred to Blackburn in the summer of 1994. A fairytale season saw him become the first Australian to win the Premier League title.

"I came over from France and it turned out to be a great move for me. I was initially going to join my friend Mark Bosnich at Aston Villa, but Kenny Dalglish rang me and I went up there and signed for Blackburn instead.

"It was a special season and our success was down to a lot of things, mostly the inspirational management of Kenny Dalglish. The players looked up to him and would run through brick walls for him.

"Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton got the goals and the headlines, but we had a good hard-working squad. Colin Hendry was the unsung hero. I remember one game at Everton where he made about 18 goalline clearances!

"We didn't have many injuries and didn't use too many players, we had great characters and of course we had Alan and Chris up front, so it was mostly a case of getting the ball forward to them and letting them finish it off."

Following Blackburn's title win - a success based on West Ham's final-day draw with Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground - Dalglish left Ewood Park. It would not be long before Slater did likewise.

"I never really wanted to leave Blackburn, but when Kenny left I quickly realised I wouldn't really fit into the plans of his replacement, Ray Harford.

"I had been rooming with Tony Gale during the previous season and he never stopped going on about West Ham and what a great club it was. I'd grown up watching Alan Devonshire and Trevor Brooking on the TV and West Ham was a popular team in Australia.

"I got a call from Harry Redknapp and I joined. It was such an enjoyable season for me, even though I had some hamstring injury problems.

"Harry was a really good manager and a good man-manager for the players. He knew how to give you a kick up the backside, but he also knew it was important to give you a pat on the back if you played well.

"We had some good players and characters in the squad - Julian Dicks, Tony Cottee, Alvin Martin, Ian Bishop and John Moncur - and we had quite a successful season, finishing tenth."

Slater moved on again in August 1996, joining Southampton and helping them to secure their Premier League survival by scoring a vital goal against old club Blackburn in May 1997.

Looking back on a productive career that also saw him voted Oceania Footballer of the Year on two occasions and be capped 44 times by Australia, Slater is hoping West Ham can emulate the Saints, rather than three of his other former clubs.

"Lens look like they'll definitely be relegated from the French First Division, while I also played for Blackburn and Wolves, who have also had pretty poor seasons.

"Southampton have gone up from League One, though, so I'm not always bad news for a club! Hopefully West Ham can also have a happy ending. That'd certainly put a smile on my face."