Ben's Big Sam surprise!

Ben Shephard received the best 40th birthday gift a West Ham United supporter could wish for - a Claret and Blue cake presented by manager Sam Allardyce.

Big Sam surprised Hammers fan Shephard live on ITV's Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, appearing on the set to the sound of Bubbles before handing the cake to the shocked presenter.

Shephard, who knows the manager well after playing under him in the annual Soccer Aid charity match and presenting West Ham's annual Player Awards in recent years. As he approaches his big milestone on Thursday, however, the popular host admits his dream of receiving a call-up by Big Sam to pull on the famous West Ham shirt is fast receding!


"I don't want to ever think that there is not a chance that I will see Sam at one point and he is going to say 'Sheps, have you got your boots because we need you this Saturday?'" he smiled. "It is getting harder and harder every day when I get up that little bit older and that little bit creakier to think that the dream is still alive!

"Seriously, though, I get the chance to play down at Upton Park after the end of the season and that's enough. Besides, the way the boys are playing at the moment they don't need any help from muppets like me!

"Sam is doing a cracking job and it's an absolute pleasure to be a West Ham fan right now."

While his fellow hosts - Sean Fletcher, Susanna Reid and Charlotte Hawkins - were in on the surprise, Shephard himself had no idea that he would be joined on the sofa by the manager of his favourite football club.

Big Sam with Ben Shephard and the Good Morning Britain crew

"I am rubbish with surprises and Sam always gives me so much stick because I am on the telly in the morning, then doing the quiz [Tipping Point] and then doing Goals on Sunday with Kammy!" he continued.

"I genuinely cannot believe Sam came onto Good Morning Britain. It will be one of the most surreal but brilliant moments of my career, him delivering my birthday cake for my 40th birthday!

"It's softened the blow of turning 40, but to be honest things are great - West Ham are flying high in the Premier League, I've got a very happy family and I work with some great people, so there are a few things I'm not that concerned about and turning 40 is one of them!

"Sam just escalated my birthday to something really special by bringing my cake in!"

The manager has his make-up done before his surprise appearance

Focusing on football, Shephard has been hugely impressed with how the Hammers have performed under Big Sam this season, and paid tribute to the loyalty shown to the manager by Joint-Chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold.

"I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and I said that one of the sensational things about our recent form is the fact we have come back to win the last few games. We have gone behind and come back to win and we're doing really well.

"To see the boys playing with confidence, enthusiasm and energy, playing creative, exciting football is the West Ham we all want to see and I think it bodes really, really well.

"The faith that that the Chairmen and the Club had in Sam have allowed him to prove that, given a fit squad, he is definitely the manager want as West Ham fans to go forward. You can see it pulsing through the team.

"It's an absolute pleasure being a West Ham fan, which is why turning 40 won't be quite so painful!"