Mark Noble at the Mark Noble Arena

Johnson: Academy players will be inspired by The Mark Noble Arena

Ben Johnson knows just how important Mark Noble is, and has been, to West Ham United. 

The longstanding Club captain was a guiding influence for Johnson when he made his first steps into the Hammers first team. The full-back made his Premier League debut in February 2019, but it would be another year before Johnson would start to establish himself in the senior squad. 

With Noble opting to bring his iconic career in Claret and Blue to an end this summer after 18 years representing his boyhood Club, the midfielder was honoured at Chadwell Heath with a new development pitch named in his honour. 

While Johnson received the benefits of working closely with Noble over the past few seasons, the 22-year-old Academy graduate has no doubt that young players in the West Ham United Academy will continue to be inspired by Mark Noble, and his namesake arena.

Nobes managed to live his dream and other lads too if they work hard and stick with it.
Ben Johnson

“The Mark Noble Arena is brilliant,” Johnson said. “The photos around the arena give the Academy boys something to be inspired by and an incentive to keep going. 

:It's a huge incentive because not many get to come to Chadwell Heath and train and being inspired by the Mark Noble Arena. Some days may come when a player isn’t having a good session, or isn’t enjoying their football, but they can look around this pitch and see what can be achieved.

“Nobes managed to live his dream and other lads too if they work hard and stick with it."

Reflecting on his own career so far, one that saw Johnson join the Academy of Football at seven-years-old, the defender could not help but note the impact Noble has had on him as a person. 


Johnson was recently named the Young Player of the Season for a second consecutive campaign, an honour that has also been named in tribute to Mark Noble’s career.

“Being a school boy here and then going into the scholarship years, the dream is to go into the first team but it’s still quite far away and you have a lot of work to do. I was just trying to earn my stripes in the under-18s and earning an opportunity in the U23s.

“When I got to the U23s, the first team felt much closer, and that’s was when I started to get to know Nobes. It was encouraging for me that he took an interest and then it was a privilege to make my debut for the Club and to play alongside him. I’ve learned so much from him, even this season. It’s special because of how long he has been at the Club. 

“He’s one of the best Academy graduates ever. The longevity he’s had in the first team is so rare. He’s helped me so much in my own transition from the Academy into the first team. This pitch is a fantastic celebration for him.”


There is something special about Mark Noble’s relationship with any other graduate of the West Ham Academy. 

Declan Rice regularly speaks of the departing captain’s influence, while other young talent who have recently made their first team debut – the likes of Sonny Perkins, Dan Chesters and Harrison Ashby – also highlight Noble’s words of wisdom.

“Nobes’ relationship with Academy graduates is unique,” Johnson added. “He and I get on so well because we’ve got that in common. He’s been through the same things I’ve been through and gone through things I might go through in the coming years. He’s been there and done it and the advice he gives me isn’t just encouragement. You can tell he means it.

“Nobes has had a great career with West Ham but it’s not always been rosy. There have been some hard times and got through it. I know he will always be supporting me and the other Academy graduates, even though he’s no longer going to be here every day.”