Ask any West Ham United fan for an example of the supposed injury curse that hangs over their club and the answer will be unanimous, Dean Ashton.
West Ham supporters are all too used to seeing their best players spend long spells out injured.
The Hammers seem to have their top stars constantly cut down in their prime or during an exciting run of form.
Indeed this season Manuel Pellegrini’s best laid plans have been severely hampered by a Premier League-worst injury list, read full story here.
The West Ham curse
Hammers fans are battle hardened when it comes to dealing with the disappointment of injuries to their best players.
They lost Manuel Lanzini for most of the season before a ball was kicked last summer.
New signings Andriy Yarmolenko, Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez have all suffered season-ending injuries.
And Andy Carroll’s persistent issues continue.
It is perhaps the loss of striker Ashton which still hurts the most, though.
Ashton loss still hurts 10 years on
He was a long-term investment. And Ashton was very much in the Alan Shearer mould as his form for the club subsequently proved.
But three years later and after several attempts at a comeback following a serious injury while in training with England, Ashton was forced to retire due to injury aged just 26.
The brilliant striker scored over 100 goals in 250 games for Crewe, Norwich and West Ham and also played for England.
And 10 years on from Ashton’s retirement, emotional former Hammers hero Jimmy Walker claims club and country were robbed of an all-time great.
‘Could have been an all-time great’
“(Ashton) could’ve been an all time great,” Walker said on Twitter when asked how good the striker was.
“If you listen to my interview with him on footballdna.co.uk I actually get emotional for him talking about his injury etc.
“Top player and top guy.”
Cudve been an all time great 🙌 If u listen to my interview with him on https://t.co/wLpdgy20cc I actually get emotional for him talking about his injury etc 😭 top player and top guy 👌 https://t.co/9c3QzuA0iN
— Jimmy Walker (@jimmywalker001) March 15, 2019
Walker then agreed when another former Hammer, Hogan Ephraim, said Ashton would have broken England’s scoring record.
“(Ashton) could have done all sorts geeze, he was frightening!” Ephraim said.
“Would have been up there for England’s goal record.”
Could have done all sorts geeze, he was frightening!!! Woulda been up there for England’s goal record 👀
— Hogan Ephraim (@HoganEphraim) March 15, 2019
Unfortunately we’ll never know.
But West Ham fans will never forget Deeeaaaaaannnnooooooo.