International Hammers

WEST Ham United has always been a club steeped in a grand history, with a tradition for producing the crème de la crème of English footballing talent through the academy.

Hammers can claim to have had the rare honour of playing the captain of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire at some point during their history.

There have however, also been many players from further afield to have graced Upton Park - some gaining legendary status at the Boleyn Ground.

One foreign international that certainly will go down as a West Ham United legend is Ludek Miklosko, current goalkeeping coach.

Ludo was signed during Lou Macari's brief stint as manager. The big Czech was signed in 1989, but didn't make his debut until after Macari had left. He played for Banik Ostrava before, helping them to the Czech title.

Joining the Hammers earned him international recognition, and he won seven caps for Czechoslovakia, as it was then, while at Upton Park. His final appearance for his country was in 1992 against England, whom he had played once before two years earlier.

Ludo won 40 full caps in total and went to the 1990 World Cup, although he did not play. Now coaching at the academy, he passes on his knowledge to our other keepers, Roy Carroll, Shaka Hislop, Stephen Bywater and Jimmy Walker.

Ludo's long-standing Czech team-mate Pavel Snricek also represented the Hammers, in two matches, but did save a penalty against Millwall.

He is not the only native Czech around Chadwell Heath these days either.
Tomas Repka has been made to feel welcome by the presence of the big man since his arrival in 2002.

Tomas has 46 caps for the Czech Republic and has scored one goal - more than he has managed for the Hammers. Tommy struck in a 3-2 win over Scotland in 1999. His last international appearance was in November 2001 versus Belgium, although he did play against Denmark, France and Holland in Euro 2000.

Tomas is partnered down the right flank at West Ham by Israeli star Yossi Benayoun. Yossi has made an immediate impact since arriving in the summer, but has been plying on trade on the world stage since the age of 18.

With 48 caps and 10 goals, Yossi is has been of Israel's finest players since his debut against Portugal in 1998. A year later he scored a hat-trick in an 8-0 thrashing of San Marino, and struck twice in a 2-2 draw with Switzerland, during the 2006 World Cup Playoffs.

Yossi follows in the footsteps of another little Israeli playmaker that took Upton Park by storm, Eyal Berkovic, who earned 82 caps for his country.
He is still in the game having recently signed for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but also offered his services as national team manager after an unsuccessful World Cup bid.

Berkovic spent two happy years at West Ham, and was often lining up alongside Marc Vivien Foe.

Foe won his 65th cap for Cameroon on June, 27, 2003, where he passed away during a Confederations Cup match with Columbia. He had scored eight international goals and won the African Nations Cup. Marc played in USA 94, but missed the 1998 tournament through injury. He was a fantastic player and will be missed.

Foe's international captain and friend Rigobert Song also had a spell with the Hammers, after Foe had gone back to France. Song has won an astounding
98 caps, captaining the side to African Nations Championships and has played in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups. He made his debut alongside Marc Vivien Foe versus Mexico in 1993.

Stan Lazaridis has never played in a World Cup, but he will do very shortly.
He has however, won 64 caps, without scoring a single goal, making his Australia debut in 1993 against Kuwait

His fellow countryman Robbie Slater had a brief stay at the Boleyn, and already in experienced international with 28 caps and one goal. Slater made his Aussie debut against rather more formidable opponents - Brazil, in 1988.

The pair often operated in midfield with another international, Marc Rieper, behind in the back four. Marc also played in the World Cup in 1998 and scored against Saudi Arabia. The big centre half notched five goals for the Hammers and three of them came against Coventry, before his move to Celtic.

Two other menacing centre halves that have represented West Ham in recent years were Igor Stimac and Javier Margas. The Chilean won 63 caps from 1990-2000 and Stimac represented Croatia 53 times, their 8th highest.

His compatriot and ex-Hammer Davor Suker is the third highest with 63, but is leading scorer by a country mile with 49 goals. Suker only struck twice with West Ham in 18 months but was leading scorer in France 98 winning the Golden Boot.

Slaven Bilic also played for Croatia in that tournament, reaching the semi-finals. He represented his country for nine-years earning 44 caps and scoring three goals.

Shaka Hislop is still going strong for Trinidad and Tobago and will finally appear in the World Cup after making his debut back in 1998 against Jamaica, and former keeper Craig Forrest earned 56 caps for Canada, winning the 2000 Concaf Gold Cup. He won the MVP having saved two penalties and only let in three goals in two games.

Other North American players include Alex Bunbury of Canada and Paulo Wanchope of Costa Rica. Bunbury won six caps in 1993, but Wanchope won 67 and has scored 43 goals - including one versus Brazil in the 2002 World Cup.

Romanian duo Florin Raducioiu and Ilie Dumitrescu arrived in 1995 and probably didn't have quite the impact everyone expected. They had both starred in USA 94 with 82 caps and 41 goals between them, but failed to shine at Upton Park.
Arriving alongside them was Portuguese star Paulo Futre. He came from AC Milan, and had previously won the European Cup with Porto. He won 41 caps and was in the squad than went to Mexico in 1986.

There have been many international stars to grace Upton Park, too many to mention, and there will continue to be many through the years, but there's just one more - our very first foreign international - and a pioneer, that will always be remembered at West Ham United.

Clyde Best arrived from Bermuda in 1969 and partnered Geoff Hurst up front on many occasions scoring 58 goals for the Hammers in between then and 1975.
He became the Bermudan national coach for a period in 1997 and won his first cap when he was only 15-years-old.