Dimitri Payet is presented as a new Vasco de Gama player at Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, August 2023.

9 former West Ham players we can’t believe are still playing in 2023

West Ham United have signed plenty of players in the past to escape mediocrity and learning that some of them are still playing in 2023 came as a surprise to us. 

Gaining a reputation for wastefulness in the transfer market, there were long periods where it seemed like West Ham would take a punt on anybody.

We’ve identified nine former Hammers, going back to the Alan Curbishley era, who are surprisingly still carrying on their football careers in 2023.

Dimitri Payet

Payet was on course to become the biggest West Ham hero since Paolo Di Canio before defecating on his club legacy from the height of the Eiffel Tower by going on strike in January 2017.

Still, as the years roll on and the anger fades, it’s hard not to reminisce over the playmaker’s superb free-kicks, eye-of-the-needle passing and penchant for the spectacular that meant an actual West Ham player was on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2016.

After being released by his beloved Marseille at the end of last season, the 36-year-old has signed for Brazilian club Vasco da Gama in something of a romantic move.

“I am really happy to be here and see all this passion from the part of the fans. I can’t wait to play for them,” Payet said upon his arrival in Brazil. We can’t wait to see what he produces over there.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 20th Aug, 2023. The French player, Dimitri Payet, is presented as the new reinforcement of Vasco da Gama, moments before the match the match between Vasco da Gama and Atletico Mineiro, for the Brazilian Serie A 2023, at Maracana Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro on August 20.

READ: Dimitri Payet and 8 other Europeans that played in South America

Jose Fonte

Signed in January 2017 as panic increased about the prospect of relegation in West Ham’s first season at the London Stadium, Fonte arrived in east London with big wages and a big reputation.

Having impressed at Southampton, and helped Portugal win Euro 2016, the centre-back conceded a penalty on his Hammers debut and things didn’t get much better from there.

Fonte was flogged to Dalian Yifang the following February, before cancelling his contract with the Chinese side and moving to Lille after just five months.

He captained the French side to the Ligue 1 title in 2021 before moving to Braga this summer at the age of 39.

Alex Song

Sebastian Schemmel, Herita Illunga… West Ham have a rich history of impressive loanees turning into Sunday League cloggers once they start to believe the hype.

And the case of Song was arguably the saddest. Acquired from Barcelona in 2014, Song was the classy base of Sam Allardyce’s free-wheeling diamond formation that led the Hammers to fourth at Christmas 2014.

Sadly, this impact became increasingly limited as West Ham slipped to 12th by May and the midfielder featured little under Slaven Bilic the following season. He wasn’t signed permanently and moved to Rubin Kazan in 2016.

After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the former Cameroon international was one of nine players sacked by Swiss club FC Sion.

But he’s soldiering on and has played for Djiboutian side Arta/Solar7 since November 2020. We’re as surprised as you are.

Carl Jenkinson

Signed on loan from Arsenal in 2014, Jenkinson was a breath of fresh air at right-back and looked to have the position locked for the foreseeable future.

But an ACL injury in January 2016 stunted his career growth. The full-back returned to Arsenal and never played in the Premier League again.

Spells at Birmingham and Nottingham Forest followed before the defender decided to up sticks and move to Australia.

After a brief loan at Melbourne City, Jenkinson is now with A-League side Newcastle Jets.

READ: How TWO Arsenal outfielders ended up in goal on loan at West Ham

Pablo Barrera

Finishing bottom of the Premier League with just seven wins and 33 points, West Ham’s 2010-11 season was one of the worst in the club’s history.

It didn’t help that the cash-strapped club spent £4million on Barrera, who had impressed at the World Cup with Mexico but whose impact at Upton Park amounted to running very fast in a straight line.

He was loaned to Real Zaragoza after relegation, before returning to Mexico with Cruz Azal in 2012. The winger has remained in his homeland ever since and currently turns out for Liga MX side Queretaro at the age of 36.

Freddie Sears

Seeing 17-year-old Sears score the winner against Blackburn on his club debut in March 2008 was one of those moments that lifted the roof of Upton Park.

After hitting the post at Everton in his next outing, big things were expected of the young striker especially considering the injuries to Dean Ashton and Craig Bellamy at the time.

But his time at West Ham never quite lived up to that promise. Sam Allardyce admitted in his autobiography that he couldn’t understand the fuss around Sears and he only scored one more goal before leaving for Colchester in 2012.

After impressing enough to earn a move to Championship side Ipswich, the 33-year-old returned to the Colchester Community Stadium in 2021.

Jonathan Calleri

Having once tried to score a rabona when presented with a tap-in at Stoke (he missed), Calleri’s time at West Ham was disappointing even by the low standard of strikers they’ve signed over the past 13 years.

After scoring just once in his season-long-loan from Deportivo Maldonado, few tears were shed when the Argentinian left the club in the summer of 2017.

But he’s found his spiritual home at Sao Paulo, scoring 41 goals in 110 appearances for the Brazilian outfit.

Still doesn’t beat this jaw-dropper from his Boca days, mind…

Ruud Boffin

The amusingly-named goalkeeper played just once for the Hammers, deputising for Robert Green in a 1-1 draw at Blackburn in December 2010 on a day so cold that almost every other Premier League match that day was postponed due to heavy snowfall.

His contract was cancelled by mutual consent in April 2012 and the Belgian goalkeeper has spent the rest of his career in Turkey.

Boffin even scored with a direct free-kick for Eskisehirspor in 2016, before moving to Antalyaspor one year later and remaining there ever since.

Nicky Maynard

Maynard didn’t stay at West Ham for long, signing from Bristol City in January 2012 to aid the club’s promotion push and leaving in August once a return to the Premier League had been secured.

In fairness, given his goalscoring credentials at Championship level, four goals in 17 matches hardly set the world alight.

Since leaving West Ham, Maynard has enjoyed a long and varied career with Cardiff City, Milton Keynes Dons, Aberdeen, Bury, Mansfield Town and Tranmere Rovers.

He’s now turning out for Winsford Town in Cheshire League Two and scored in their defeat against Clay Brow in August.

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