Few players have endeared themselves to the Claret and Blue Army this century more than Christian Dailly.
When the Scotland defender arrived in 2001, he had already enjoyed a successful career both north and south of the border, winning the Scottish Cup with Dundee United and playing Premier League football with Derby County and Blackburn Rovers, and appeared for his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals.
At West Ham United, however, he became a true cult hero for his work-rate, commitment, willingness to fill any position and, most notably, his thick and curly dark hair!
Even now, more than a decade after Dailly, who turns 46 on Wednesday, made the last of his 191 appearances for the Hammers, the club’s supporters regale the amiable centre-back with a chorus of his unique terrace chant at every match.
While the full wording cannot be published here, the song is essentially an ode of love to Dailly, with an emphasis placed on his eye-catching thatch!
The song is quite funny but my family don’t sing it back to me as it’s too rude!
“I can’t remember when it was [when I first heard the song], but I do remember thinking ‘Is that my name?!’,” he told West Ham TV’s Watch with… presenter Chris Scull. “It’s quite funny but my family don’t sing it back to me as it’s too rude!”
Unsurprisingly, Dailly’s most-notable physical attribute runs in the family…
“I’m not being funny, my son is a caricature of me! He’s got an unbelievable barnet! It’s actually at a different level to me! My Dad had a huge curly barnet and one of my brothers is the same.”
While his appearance is what younger fans know Dailly for, he was also a leader.
On 18 May 2004, he handed the captain’s armband by Alan Pardew in a must-win First Division Play-Off semi-final second leg against Ipswich Town at the Boleyn Ground.
Dailly wore the captain’s armband and scored the winning goal, poking into the bottom corner after controlling fellow goalscorer Matty Etherington’s corner with his unmentionables, on a night that West Ham fans still talk about, 15 years on.
“The noise that night and the level of shaking in the stadium probably never been felt. I’ve played in Old Firm games since then and they weren’t as noisy as that. It’s hard to describe what was going on that night.”
Even then, as the Claret and Blue Army belted out his song across the east London night, Ipswich came within the width of a post of eliminating Dailly and company on away goals.
“What did you expect? We were never going to make it easy for ourselves, were we?!”