Some of West Ham’s greatest ever players have played at centre back for the Hammers through the years, Bobby Moore, Billy Bonds Rio Ferdinand are all quite rightly held up as Hammers legends, Below are a few players who shall we say didn’t quite reach legendary status in the claret and blue.

Roger Johnson 2014 4 Apps

I must admit that it does feel a little bit harsh putting Johnson in here, during his time at Cardiff and later Birmingham he was a highly rated defender who received rave reviews for his commanding style and assured presence in defence.

By the time he joined West Ham he cut quite a different figure, he was relegated from the Premier League with Birmingham in 2012, was then sold Wolves and subsequently relegated from the Premier League in 2013 and then the Championship in 2013, Wolves were desperate to offload Johnson who would have been on Premier League wages at the time but despite a relatively successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday Johnson joined the Hammer on loans in January 2014 with a need to rebuild his reputation.

Johnson joined the Hammers just before the League Cup Semi-Final of 2014 in order to bolster the club’s defensive options. Now to be fair to Johnson West Hams opponents that day were Manchester City who had Negredo and Dzeko as their strike pairing, West Ham’s scratch partnership of George McCartney and the unfortunate Johnson were always facing an uphill task and the fact that West Ham were 5-0 within the hour would serve to highlight that. Johnson spent most of the game like rabbit in the head lights as City’s forwards piled towards goal. My main memory is of Johnson retreating as Yaya Toure walked through the midfield and calmly slotted home City’s third just before half time. While I would imagine every West Ham fan country shouted “PUT A TACKLE IN!!!!!!!”

West Ham did win Johnsons next game at Cardiff but were subsequently well beaten by Newcastle in the League 3-1 and by 3-0 City in the 2nd Leg of the Semi-Final.

Johnson has gone on to play for Charlton and for Pune in the Indian Super League, he clearly was a player of some talent, but he didn’t really show it in the claret and blue and my memory of him in that League Cup semi-final means he gets my slightly harsh nomination here.

Rigobert Song 2000-2001 26 Apps

A Cameroonian international signed from Liverpool in 2000 as a replacement for Rio Ferdinand. To give you an idea of how it went is name became rhyming slang for “wrong”.

Song lacked positional discipline and was a considerable downgrade on Ferdinand despite his experience and obvious talent. Song seemed unable to handle the physicality of the Premier League he only lasted a season with the club and was transferred to Koln in 2001 after a 5-0 defeat to Everton.

Song played over 100 times for Cameroon and represented his country in four World Cup Finals and 8 African Cup of Nations. A player with undoubted pedigree but did not display it in his time at the club

Gary Breen 2002-2003 13 Apps

Signed on a free transfer after impressing for the Irish in the 2002 World Cup Final, Breen struggled to find any form at the Hammers and left the club shortly after the relegation of the 2002-03 season having started only 13 games.

A tall rangy Centre Half very much in the style of then Manager Glenn Roeder, Breen was brought in to help the club build on the very promising 7th position in Roeder’s first season in charge. The team did not start well throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Arsenal being significant as West Ham did not win a home game until January. The crowd quickly turned against Breen who often appeared hesitant and lacking confidence a far cry from the dominant performances displayed by Breen in South Korea and Japan.

Breen left the club on a free transfer at the end of the ill-fated season joining Sunderland.

Breen played 63 times for the Republic scoring 7 goals

Paul Hilton 1984-1989 60 Apps

Signed from Bury after West Ham beat them 10-0 in the League Cup, whose chances to play for the club were very restricted by the form of Tony Gale and Alvin Martin.

A tall centre-half who lacked pace, his last season ended in relegation in 1989 he retired after that season and served the club as a coach under Billy Bonds.

Like many of the nominees a victim of circumstance invariably in the team when one of the more established players was injured or suspended he never really grabbed the chances given to him.

Hilton has gone on to work in youth football serving Gillingham, Ipswich and Stevenage with distinction.

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