Name: Dani Carvalho
Date of birth: 2 November 1976, Lisbon, Portugal
Debut: Premier League, West Ham United 1-0 Nottingham Forest, 3 February 1996
Final game: Premier League, Aston Villa 1-1 West Ham United, 17 April 1996
Despite making just nine appearances in the claret and blue shirt, Dani Carvalho will be always remembered among the Hammers fans for a special moment. Just after his arrival at the Boleyn Ground, in his first full start in the Premier League, the 19-year-old Portuguese international striker immediately lived up his high-profile status with a stunning header against Tottenham Hotspur in a memorable 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane.
Only two years before, Dani made his debut for Sporting Lisbon, playing alongside Luis Figo and Bulgarian star Krasimir Balakov. In 1996, considered one of the most promising players in Portuguese football at the time, the young talent joined West Ham on a £130,000 loan deal in early February.
Following his goal at the London derby, Dani would later score again, this time at the Boleyn Ground in a 4-2 win over Manchester City. However, despite his good moments at West Ham, Dani remembers that his adaptation was not easy and his relationship with the manager Harry Redknapp was not always a bed of roses.
"I was very young at the time, and was used to following advice from people at Sporting Lisbon, where I had been playing my whole life as a young footballer. When I arrived at West Ham, everything happened very fast. It was not easy for me to trust everyone I met, so I guess I wasn't the best person to follow advice from someone else.
"Everything went so fast. I believe if there had been more time, and more patience on both sides, the future could have looked very different. Harry Redknapp is a very respected person in the English football environment, and worldwide, so he is without doubt someone all young players should be listening to."
After his passage in England, Dani spent four seasons with Dutch giants Ajax, making 72 appearances and scoring ten goals in a side containing a galaxy of international stars including Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Mario Melchiot and Michael Laudrup - who Dani confesses that has become his hero.
"Curiously enough I was not a big fan of Michael's when I began playing at Ajax, but after I met him and got to know him better, while also training alongside him, he became my idol. He is an excellent individual and a phenomenal player."
Dani left the Amsterdam Arena in 2000 and, after having two bad experiences in his career, decided to announce his retirement as a professional footballer at the age of 27.
"Football is a complicated world and sometimes people have to make decisions in order to protect your human side, as opposed to your professional life. After two bad experiences at Benfica and Atletico Madrid, I decided to return to Portugal and take a break, to think about if playing football was really what I wanted to do. It turns out that I decided to retire as I believe it's the decision I had to take for my personal life."
After his withdrawal, Dani returned to the game, but this time with different aims mainly focused on youth football.
"I began preparing myself to become a coach or football director, so I've been spending a lot of time taking some courses in order to become better prepared. I have spent some time at Ajax, a club that shares the same thoughts and values that I support.
"I know youth football is something that I really want to work with. I have seen some problems that are happening now that can and should be resolved in the future. For instance, a lot of young players that play in the top teams when they are young, when they move to the senior level, people just forget them and they lose themselves in the lower divisions. This means that this moment of a player's career is crucial, and it should be studied more carefully."
Being a Premier League fan, Dani keeps in touch with English football and follows the Hammers.
"Every weekend I watch all the games of the English league that play here on Portuguese television. When West Ham games are not broadcasted here, I follow the results at the end of each game. I still know some players; Scott Parker, Robert Green and Victor Obinna, I really like the way he plays.
"Of course I know Luis Boa Morte because we played together at Sporting Lisbon in the youth level, so I still keep regular contact with him. We tend to speak more often over the summer when he comes to Portugal and we always talk a lot about the club."
Aware about the move from Boleyn Ground to the Olympic Stadium, Dani believes it is a great move for the development of the club.
"Although I understand all the traditional values surrounding the old stadium, for its history and all the glorious moments it had, the fans have to understand it is an important and necessary step for the club.
"The important thing is for clubs to evolve and develop, therefore this transition to the Olympic stadium is without doubt a huge breakthrough for West Ham not only economically speaking, but also with regards to infrastructure and facilities for the players, while also providing more seating space for fans in a more modern stadium."
During his short career as a professional footballer, Dani had an experience that he will never forget - playing at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
"It was an incredible experience, where we felt like we were playing the World Cup. I remember commenting to one of my colleagues the fact that we were not able to stay at the Olympic Village, so the opportunity of meeting and engaging in all that environment together with athletes was not possible.
"I think this happened because we had to be travelling all the time to different locations for our matches. Nevertheless, it was a successful event, with great teams and great players, and one I'll never forget."