West Ham United players and staff joined forces - literally - with the British Army when the 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment visited the team's training camp in Marienfeld, Germany on Friday.

The group, which consisted of around 40 serving officers, privates and captains with some of their families, many of whom are ardent West Ham supporters, were invited to watch manager Sam Allardyce and his players in training at the team's base by the Club.

After getting autographs and photographs with the West Ham squad, members of the Battalion's football team also got the chance to swap their formal uniforms for a football kit and be put through their paces under the close eye of assistant manager Neil McDonald and first team coach Ian Hendon. Midfielder Matt Taylor also volunteered his services to go in goal during shooting practice during the session, which was well received by all who took part.

The Battalion then presented a special plaque to Sam Allardyce and captain Kevin Nolan to commemorate the visit and in return the pair presented the youngest private soldier Aaron Whitelock from the group with the home adidas shirt signed by all of the squad.

Several of the soldiers who visited the team have either recently returned from tours to Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq and the Battalion will soon be undertaking a further tour of duty in Afghanistan. The Battalion is mainly based in Paderborn in Germany, but also have other bases back in England, such as at Woolwich, south London and in Canterbury, Kent. The soldiers based in the German city will move from the area in 2020 once duties are completed there.

Army visit

1st Battalion captain Robert Coates said: "It was a great for us all to come here not only to get the chance to watch the team train, which our West Ham-supporting lads enjoyed immensely as you can imagine, but to meet the team and be warmly welcomed by everyone was amazing.

"It is a morale boost for us to give all our servicemen and women and their families the chance to do something like this and we are very grateful for the support clubs like West Ham give the armed forces. We hope that West Ham enjoyed training and playing in Germany and we hope that maybe there will be a chance to link up again in the near future."

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce added: "I'm delighted that we were able to host the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment today. I'm particularly fond of seeing the Army lads as I visited Germany on a regular basis when I was a player with Bolton in the 1970s and most of our stay was in the British Army camps.

"They looked after us very, very well back then indeed, so it's great to see them and I hope they've had some fun and enjoyment from the trip."

West Ham United has always supported the Armed Forces in various different ways, from providing tickets for games and helping to promote and back several armed forces charities such as Help for Heroes. The visit comes ahead of the Hammers playing the last match of their German tour, against Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday 27 July.