Robert Green: The former West Ham goalkeeper on completing 'the greatest of Great Escapes'

Robert Green celebrates


Match-winner Carlos Tevez might have made the headlines following West Ham United’s dramatic final-day win at Manchester United on this day in 2007, but he was far from the only hero in Claret and Blue that day.

At the other end of the pitch, Robert Green produced another sensational performance between the sticks, keeping the star-studded Red Devils at bay.

Despite being put under siege at times by Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions-elect, particularly following the second-half introduction of substitutes Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Green and his teammates held firm to keep West Ham in the Premier League and complete what Green himself called ‘the greatest of Great Escapes’.

From being ten points from safety with nine games to play, West Ham won seven, including this 1-0 victory at Old Trafford, to stay up in style.

I remember coming for a late corner and hearing a nervous high-pitched, shrill: ‘Catch it, Greeny!’. The pressure had even got to James Collins!

Robert Green

“Having won three of our previous five matches, we arrived at Old Trafford on the final Sunday of the 2006/07 season in 17th spot,” recalled the popular stopper, who had displaced Roy Carroll as No1 midway through the season and went on to spent five-and-a-half seasons as first-choice goalkeeper. “We weren’t safe, but we knew a draw would keep us up.

“Although we’d beaten United 1-0 at home back in December, we’d been in the bottom three throughout winter and spring.

“At one team-meeting, we asked: ‘Who believes we can stay up?’ I counted just three hands! Having spent years at Norwich trying to get into the Premier League, I certainly wasn’t going back down after just one season at West Ham…”


Robert Green celebrates


Green revealed that the presence of a celebrity Hammer at the team hotel had given him even greater motivation to get the job done.

“Noel Edmonds was at our team hotel in Manchester and, as we left, he warned: ‘You’d better win today’, or words to that effect!” he laughed, before returning to serious mode to describe the action itself.

“It was an emotional time for everyone connected with the club. Wayne Rooney and Alan Smith were soon keeping me busy, while Yossi Benayoun helped out with a couple of goal-line clearances.

“Right on half-time, my long kick found Carlos Tevez, who played a one-two with Bobby Zamora, before famously putting us ahead. It was great to score but I was worried we’d poked the bear too early!”


Greatest Escape clipping


Green was to be proved right, as West Ham were forced to resist wave after wave of attacks from the home side.

“When we came out for the restart, the Manchester United fans in the crowd of 75,927 were chanting: ‘Send ‘em down!’,” he continued. “To make matters worse, Sir Alex Ferguson brought on Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. It was becoming very stressful for everyone.

“I remember coming for a late corner and hearing a nervous high-pitched, shrill: ‘Catch it, Greeny!’. The pressure had even got to James Collins!

“We’d taken a battering at times but, thankfully, held on to pull off what truly had been the greatest of Great Escapes.”


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