Joe Cole has been speaking about his praise for Tony Carr.
The England midfielder - gearing up for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa after being named in Fabio Capello's final 23-man squad - was delighted to be involved when the Academy Director staged his testimonial match last month. Cole came all the way through the Hammers youth ranks to the first team before progressing to full international honours.
"Tony has been a great coach and a big part of my upbringing in football, I don't think I would be the player I am if it was not for Tony and the Academy staff I worked with when I was here.
"I really appreciate what I was given here at West Ham and it is nice that so many of the lads came back and we were able to say thanks to Tony like this."
Cole remains in close contact with Carr and keeps a keen interest in who might be the next player off the production line. "He is still going, still telling me about the young players he has now coming through. He's excited about a few of them and he is waiting for the next lot to come through as well now."
Although unable to play in the match back on 5 May because of club commitments with Chelsea, Cole was grateful for the welcome he received from the Hammers faithful.
"I can't thank the West Ham fans enough for the reaction they gave us. All of us who have come back were delighted about that. It is nice to appreciate what the club have done for me and also the fans appreciate what I done for the club. I am very happy at that."
"I have only all good memories of my time here, no bad at all. It was great winning the FA Youth Cup here, making my debut for the first team and playing with some great players like Paolo.
"It was great to see him and be on the pitch with him again. He's still the same, still wants to do everything and is as energetic as ever out there. It was a cracking night."