Walter Lopez “Who?” Walter Lopez! “Who?” WALTER LOPEZ!! “Who?”. Yes, it’s true, many Hammers fans will not remember Uruguayan International Walter Lopez but he once looked to have a bright future in East London.
However, what ended his short stay at Upton Park? Did he ever fulfil his bright potential? And where is he now?
The full-back began his career with Racing Club in his native South America, before his big break in moving onto Club Atlético River Plate in the Primera División in 2005.
The long-haired star’s European breakthrough would come just a year later in the form of a loan to Spanish side Xerez in the second tier of Spanish football.
Lopez would impress in Spain, earning plaudits from pundits and fans on his short-term spell, but he would duly return to Uruguay.
Another loan spell would follow, this time to the Mexican league with Tecos and after impressing once again, the new man in East London, Kevin Keen, eyed up a deal for the youngster.
Upon arriving at Upton Park, Lopez was welcomed with high praise by interim manager Keen, as the long-serving coach remarked that the Uruguayan was a “West Ham type of player” and optimistically likened the attacking dimension of his game to that of Hammers great Paolo Di Canio.
However, his performances were far from matching those of the Italian legend and as for “The West Ham Way”, he was certainly no Julian Dicks.
The former Brescia man made his debut on a night to forget in Vicarage Road in the League Cup, as Watford defeated us 1-0 thanks to a comical Hayden Mullins own-goal.
Remarkably, Lopez managed to sneak into the team for five Premier League fixtures in 2010/2011, playing against Manchester City, Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Stoke City.
Despite his poor form, Lopez possessed an incredible unbeaten top-flight record as we were victorious in four of his five league games and drew the other one.
However, he was largely kept out of the side by Herita Ilunga and would feature sporadically before departing for Uruguay at the end of that campaign.
The defender was immediately loaned back for a second chance in Europe with Brescia in Serie B, his spell included a first professional goal outside of South America and close to 30 appearances in Italy. But, again the club decided again not to sign him on a permeant basis.
Despite this, Lopez continued his hard work and was soon picked up permanently by Romanian outfit FC Universitatea Craiova.
His mixed trials and tribulations would persist throughout his career and following more spells in South America and Europe, he is now with Benevento in Serie A after their promotion last season.
It may now be over ten years since the conclusion of Lopez’s international career, but he is still going strong and perhaps with different circumstances, different fortunes and a different season, Walter Lopez could have become the player he was tipped to be in Claret & Blue.