Lifelong Hammer, Official Programme columnist and London Stadium matchday presenter Chris Scull recalls West Ham United's Intertoto Cup success, exactly 20 years ago...
It’s maybe not a mainstream opinion, but I loved Harry Redknapp’s time with us. It was rock ‘n’ roll, it was unpredictable but most of all, it was exciting.
At West Ham in the '90s, he turned football into relative artform; punching us into a period of relatively sustained success and bringing through a troupe of the most-talented youngsters this side of 1966.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but we had some great times, including an unforgettable night in eastern France on this day exactly 20 years ago!
One-nil down from the first leg due to a Louis Saha penalty, all eyes turned to Metz for the grand finale (well, one of three) of the now defunct UEFA Intertoto Cup.
The prize at stake? A place in European competition for the Irons, for the first time in 18 years.
When you contrast the team that night with the team from our League Cup debacle at Stockport County, less than three years earlier, it’s clear what incredible progress had been made; and also clear in hindsight that Harry was building an exciting brand of attacking football, led by some of the greatest creative players I had ever seen. Chief among them, the Italian genius Paolo Di Canio.
We enjoyed home-grown, cross-generational talents like Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steve Potts, blended with star signings like Trevor Sinclair, Marc-Vivien Foe, Paolo Wanchope and Di Canio, and hard-working tenacious players like John Moncur and Steve Lomas who held everything together.
A left-footed drive from Trevor Sinclair opened the scoring after 25 minutes and wiped out the away goal. The Hammers were then in dreamland two minutes before the break when Lampard fired home and gave West Ham the lead on aggregate.
Metz fought back hard and ensured a nervy finale with a goal 20 minutes from time through future Manchester United striker Saha, but Wanchope rounded the goalkeeper, coolly slotted the ball away with 12 minutes remaining to put the Hammers into the hat for the UEFA Cup first round draw.
We battered Metz in the rain that night and Harry was effusive in his praise for the travelling supporters who, no doubt, preferred eastern France to that rainy night in Stockport: “Listening to them singing after the game – that's was it's all about. This win was for the punters”.
Quite right, 'arry. Quite right.