A traditional full-back if there ever was one and surely a player that can be considered an integral part of modern West Ham United history, George McCartney enjoyed two superb spells in East London.

But, just how did the Northern Irishman end up alternating between the same clubs in a bizarre career? Where does he rank in the list of the Claret & Blue Army’s favourite full-backs? And where is he now?

George McCartney

Having moved from his place of birth, Belfast in Northern Ireland, to England’s North East as a child, the defender’s first Professional Contract was signed at The Stadium of Light with Sunderland as a teenager.

The full-back soon became a proud graduate of The Black Cats’ Academy into the first-team where he excelled after making his debut in The League Cup in autumn 2000.

Four years later, he was appointed Club Captain and won The Player of the Season Award on Wearside just a year after that, however, the early part of his Career was plagued on and off by injury concerns.

And, having made close to 150 appearances in an eight-year spell with Sunderland, McCartney was headhunted by Alan Pardew at Upton Park, making the move in summer 2006.

After originally being left out of the first-team under the Englishman, the arrival of Alan Curbishley saw him assume a more regular role within the side and he would go on to play a major role in “The Great Escape”.

However, it would be the Northern Irishman’s second season in East London that he was most known for as he appeared in each and every Premier League game and was runner-up in The Hammer of the Year race.


But, after supposed clashes with National Teammate Keith Gillespie and Hammers compatriot Mark Noble cast a controversial shadow on him, the club’s Icelandic Ownership decided to sell the wide man back to The Black Cats.

This decision was made against the will of Curbishley and ultimately led to the row that saw him resign, but for McCartney, another injury warped spell with Sunderland started.

To regain his fitness, the defender was set on a double loan spell to Leeds United where it was revealed that Chairman Ken Bates had to fine him on several occasions for turning up late to training.

Having returned to The North East, in summer 2011, he embarked on another loan, back to East London with Sam Allardyce this time and aided in the Play-Off Promotion from the Championship back to the Premier League.

However, injuries would not be too far away yet again for the old-school full-back and having already retired from International Football some years back, McCartney pulled time on his playing career after a further few seasons at The Boleyn Ground in summer 2014.

The left-back had well over 150 appearances in Claret & Blue picking up The Players’ Player of the Season during the 2011/2012 campaign and scoring his only Hammers goal in his second spell during that very season away at Cardiff City.

Nowadays, at the ripe old age of 36, the former ace is living a quiet life back in his home nation, occasionally popping up for punditry work on various television and radio outlets.

George McCartney may have been one of the more controversial players to have donned The Claret & Blue but there was no doubting his natural ability and passion for the cub and the badge wherever he went in an incredible career that lasted for the best part of 20 years.

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