Netherlands coach and former international winger Bert van Marwijk could have joined West Ham United in 1978.

Tonight, Van Marwijk leads the Oranje into a must-win 2012 UEFA European Championship Group B fixture against old rivals Germany, but most spectators will not be aware that he once ran out in the claret and blue.

Now 60, he played in a trial match for the Hammers at Colchester United back on 7 August of that year, but a rumoured £100,000 transfer from AZ Alkmaar 67 failed to materialise and the Dutch master joined Dutch champions MVV Maastricht instead.

Then 26, the goalscoring wideman had just lifted the Dutch Cup with AZ, but was keen to move on in the summer of 1978 and took the opportunity to trial for John Lyall's side at Layer Road

The Newham Recorder reported that Van Marwijk - who wore the No6 shirt - had a decent game in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw: "He displayed some neat touches, good positional sense and shrewd distribution but having not played since the Dutch season ended three months ago, was clearly well short of match fitness."

A 2,720-strong crowd were on hand to watch the game, which saw Trevor Brooking score both goals for a West Ham team that also included Mervyn Day, Frank Lampard, Paul Brush, Billy Bonds, Alan Devonshire, Pat Holland, Geoff Pike and Bryan 'Pop' Robson.

Bert van Marwijk

The story as it appears on the They Fly So High website

Instead of moving to east London, he would spend eight seasons with Maastricht and made a total of 393 Eredivisie appearances before hanging up his boots in 1988.

After working with the youth teams at Maastricht and FC Herderen, Van Marwijk became manager at RKVCL Limmel in 1991. From there, he has coached SV Meerssen, Fortuna Sittard, Feyenoord and German giants BVB Borussia Dortmund.

The highlights of Van Marwijk's club career saw him win the Dutch Cup and UEFA Cup with Feyenoord - successes that saw him appointed as Netherlands national team coach in 2008.

The one-time Hammer led the Dutch to the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, where they were narrowly beaten by Spain, before guiding them to the current UEFA European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine.

*This story first appeared on the independent West Ham United online museum website They Fly So High. The website's curators Steve Marsh and Stuart Allen contribute the popular Hammerabilia feature in the official matchday programme.