Rufus Brevett

Boots in Both Camps | Former West Ham and Fulham defender Rufus Brevett

Popular defender and matchday ambassador Rufus Brevett made 29 appearances in Claret & Blue after leaving Fulham and heading down West Ham way in January 2003.


Counter offensive

The Hammers came into this weekend in seventh-spot, having also got themselves deep into Europe, once more. It’s not easy to reach the last-eight of European competition three years on the trot and it just goes to show that they’ve been putting in good performances both domestically and abroad.

By my reckoning, the Premier League is split into two divisions - the so-called ‘Big Six’ and the others. So, following their win at Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday, you’d say West Ham United came back from Molineux leading ‘The Rest’ - a really good place to be with just half-dozen games left to play.

On their day, the attacking players available to David Moyes are as good as anybody else around. Working for talkSPORT, I’d previously co-commentated on the game at St James’ Park and, although things didn’t start or end well for West Ham, for me, they’d put on the perfect away performance for an hour. 

Believe me, you won’t see a better counter-attacking performance all season. 

West Ham were brilliant during that middle period with Michail Antonio, Mohammed Kudus and Jarrod Bowen hitting Newcastle United on the break to go 3-1 up. 

They even had the travelling supporters chanting ‘Olé’ as they strung some really good passing sequences together and that’s what West Ham can be about these days. 

David Moyes’ men are capable of taking a game to anyone when they’re in that mood

Sure, it was a shame they didn’t end up getting anything on Tyneside but they bounced back with that draw against Tottenham Hotspur and victory at Wolves and they’ll now be looking at staying in the European qualification places until mid-May.

Rufus Brevett

Boys from Brazil

As a former left-back, it’s been good watching Emerson flourish in my old position this season. He did ‘okay’ at Chelsea without ever truly establishing himself at Stamford Bridge, but it’s become a totally different story at West Ham. 

Emerson hasn’t looked back since getting the nod to start the UEFA Europa Conference League final in Prague, where I was expecting Aaron Cresswell to get the shout but he came in and did really well against Fiorentina. 

Most people probably viewed him as a wing-back rather than full-back but Emerson’s been brilliant since lining up in David Moyes’ preferred flat back four. 

Believe me, they’re two totally different positions - as wing-back, you’ve got to get upfield, attack and get crosses in, whereas when playing that full-back role, first and foremost, you need to concentrate on being a really good defender. 

Looking at Emerson, he’s still getting himself forward really well, while he’s improved so much defensively, too. There’s a consistency about him these days and - although others have done well when called upon - we really miss him when he’s not there. 

A Brazilian-born Italy international, Emerson has also developed a brilliant understanding with compatriot Lucas Paquetá and, as a defender, there’s nothing better than being on the same wavelength as the man directly in front of you.

Those two boys from Brazil have been incredible this season.

Rufus Brevett

Amazing adventure

There’s been steady progression at West Ham over these past three years or so and, although their Premier League form suffered last season, they certainly made up for it by lifting the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy.

It’s been brilliant seeing what Europe has meant to everyone because the fans hadn’t been used to watching the Hammers play at that level and it’s turned into a truly great adventure. 

Travelling here, there and everywhere, while sampling new cultures and coming up against different styles of play makes it an incredible experience for everyone - the manager, his coaching staff, the squad, the supporters…

I played in Europe for Fulham in 2002/03, when we beat Bologna to win the UEFA Intertoto Cup before progressing to the UEFA Cup third round. There was a different atmosphere at Craven Cottage on those European nights and it’s also the same at London Stadium, whenever West Ham face foreign opposition.

Nothing will ever beat being under the floodlights at Upton Park because it was the place to play. Just like Craven Cottage, the Boleyn Ground was one of those fantastic, iconic venues but it’s gone. Thankfully, seven years on, everyone’s starting to make new memories at Stratford and, although the first few seasons proved difficult, the atmosphere’s now really grown.

Some performances have been absolutely brilliant and they’ll live long in the memory of anyone fortunate enough to be there on the night - who can forget the ties against Olympique Lyonnais, AZ Alkmaar, SC Freiburg and, of course, Sevilla, which was just different gravy to anything I’ve ever witnessed at London Stadium?

The fans have grown accustomed to watching their team play in Europe - they’re used to it now - and they’ll want to see that carry on for a fourth season and beyond but as you’d expect with the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, there are still some really tough teams left in there. 

Just looking at the Hammers’ half of the draw, Bayer Leverkusen, AS Roma and AC Milan all represent difficult opposition, and they face an uphill battle against Leverkusen next week, but you still wouldn’t put it past this West Ham United team to find a way to Dublin...

Rufus Brevett

Silva lining

After some yo-yo seasons, my old club Fulham look set for a third successive year in the Premier League. Add the stadium redevelopment and, certainly, there are exciting times ahead at Craven Cottage. 

Looking at the location, it’s an historic place to play football - on one hand you’ve still got the actual cottage and fans sitting on rows of wooden seats, while opposite the new Riverside Stand has got its Sky Deck plus a rooftop pool.

One of the most picturesque football stadiums around, I always enjoyed playing at Craven Cottage, although I remember misplacing a few passes into the River Thames during my five years there!

Right now, the problem is that you don’t know what Fulham team you’re getting from one game to the next. So far this season, they’ve taken four points off Arsenal, beaten Tottenham Hotspur and have also won at Manchester United.

On their day, Marco Silva’s side can be very dangerous but they’ve still only come into this weekend in 13th-place having also struggled against teams below them, dropping points to Burnley and Sheffield United, while also finding themselves three-down at Nottingham Forest before the half-time. 

Aleksandar Mitrović left in the summer and everyone was asking: ‘How are Fulham ever going to replace him?’ For me, though, it was crucial to hold on to João Palhinha because he’s a key-man for them and he’s weighed in with a few goals alongside the likes of Rodrigo Muniz, Raúl Jiménez, Alex Iwobi and Bobby De Cordova-Reid. 

Marco, who’s now approaching his third year in charge, is a very good head coach, who’s put his own stamp on the team with his own players and his own style, too. 

Fulham play with a swagger when they’re on top of their game and - coming into Sunday afternoon’s match off the back of Thursday night’s trip to Bayer Leverkusen - this could be a tricky one for West Ham.

Remembering December’s result at Craven Cottage, though, I’m sure David Moyes and his players will equally have the bit between their teeth to put things right in Sunday’s return at London Stadium.

Rufus Brevett

Rufus rocket

These days, aged 54, I’m combining a bit of coaching with some media work but looking back, I certainly enjoyed an eventful three seasons with the Hammers during a turbulent time for the Club. 

Having made 200-plus appearances for Fulham during those five years at Craven Cottage, my move to the East End in January 2003 came totally out of the blue. 

Scraping ice from my windscreen at dawn to head off for an urgent medical ahead of a surprise move to Upton Park, it proved a long, long day and, although the Hammers were embroiled in a relegation battle, my old Queens Park Rangers team-mate, Trevor Sinclair, had assured me: ‘Don’t worry Rufus, there’s no way we’re going down!’ 

I looked through that Hammers squad and they were all top drawer names - Paolo Di Canio, Fredi Kanouté, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, David James, Trevor… There were still 13 matches left and, driving through the snow with the heater on full blast, I’d reckoned: ‘Trev’s right, I just can’t see how this team gets relegated?’ 

But I soon realised that it was a crazy time at the Football Club and despite reaching 42 points, the team that was seemingly too good to go down, did go down. Don’t get me started on that one! 

I felt huge responsibility to win instant promotion but a broken foot meant my 2003/04 was over inside three matches. It’s still gut-wrenching that I lost an entire year. 

Making an eventful return in 2004/05, I got sent-off at Leicester City on the opening day before being made captain for our League Cup tie against Southend United - a game that saw 17-year-old debutant Mark Noble make the first of his 550 appearances for the Club. 

I also netted my only Hammers goal - a 30-yarder - at Crewe Alexandra (3-2). It was uncharacteristic for me to shoot from that range but taking a slight deflection it flew into the back of the net. That was a great feeling and being so shocked that I’d scored, I didn’t know how to celebrate. I just ran towards our substitute ‘keeper Jimmy Walker on the bench. 

Like me, Jimmy now enjoys being an Ambassador at London Stadium and I love coming back on matchdays and having a giggle with the supporters, while reminiscing on some memorable days at West Ham United.