Reo Coker Burns His Boats

Nigel Reo Coker ought to know better. This is the interview he has given to The Times today. What a devious little shit he is.

For once, Nigel Reo-Coker allows his guard to slip. “As I’ve said many times,” he says with a sigh, “my main focus is on West Ham . . .” He stops, turns to Tony Finnigan, his agent, and laughs. Finnigan, deep in text mode on his mobile phone, shakes his head.

Reo-Coker reloads. Take two: “As I’ve said, my main focus is on England Under-21. We’re going to try to win the tournament and that’s all I’m thinking about at the moment. Everything else that happens will take care of itself.”

It is an amusing error, a rare departure from a prepared script. Reo-Coker’s focus is not on West Ham – his critics might point out that it has not been for some time – and he will join the probable exodus from Upton Park this summer.

A move to Aston Villa is likely and could be completed as Reo-Coker, the captain, leads England in the European Under21 Championship finals in the Netherlands. The squad left yesterday for their first group match against the Czech Republic in Arnhem on Monday.

“I truly believe we can win the trophy,” Reo-Coker says. “I’ve been in the under-21s for a while and it’s the best bunch of players I’ve been with. Everyone has played at least half a season in the Premiership and we’ve got so many talented individuals.”

Reo-Coker, 23, sits in the cramped Bellini Bar in The Hospital, a chic maze of function rooms in Covent Garden, Central London. He twiddles absent-mindedly on a computer console and endorses the XBox 5’s, one of the biggest five-a-side football tournaments in Britain, the finals of which are to be held in Birming-ham tomorrow.

Relaxed and softly spoken, he talks dispassionately about the chaos at West Ham last season. It is as if he has left the club already – his transfer request went in last week – and that his stay of more than three years has been swiftly consigned to the past.

Yet the criticism that he and his colleagues attracted, as West Ham lurched from one crisis to another, stings. Reo-Coker, the captain at Upton Park, was at the epicentre of abuse, bracketed among the overpaid underachievers at Upton Park, the “Baby Bentley” brigade.

“Yeah, it did get me down,” Reo-Coker says. “I’m not going to lie, I’m human. I was down, I was depressed, I was hurt. Some individuals went through a lot of personal issues, but we stayed in the Premiership and that meant a lot to the team and the squad. To go through all that at such a young age was priceless and it made me stronger. But it’s done now, it’s history.

Reo-Coker hit rock bottom during the 6-0 defeat away to Reading on New Year’s Day, after which Alan Curbishley, the manager, famously referred to the club’s money-obsessed underperformers. “Yeah, the Baby Bentley Club,” Reo-Coker says tersely. “Well, I’m not a member. I don’t have a Bentley. No comment.

“But that game was probably one of the lowest points of my career. It was such an embarrassment and I just can’t put into words how it felt in the dressing-room. When your own fans sing ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ it’s heartbreaking.”

The bond between Reo-Coker and Curbishley, who succeeded Alan Pardew in December, deteriorated. “How was the relationship?” he is asked. “Leave that one, Nigel,” Finnigan advises. Reo-Coker does not name names, anyway, politely deflecting every potential curve ball.

He is happier talking about potting plants at his home, a newfound love of golf – “though I’m not really the patient type” – and a shared interest in horses with Anton Ferdinand, his soon-to-be former teammate. And the under21 campaign, too.

Reo-Coker has no regrets. “That’s life,” he says. “What happened happened.”

Yet when he returns from the Netherlands he will refocus, probably in the direction of Villa Park. He will not escape the claret and blue that easily.


16 Responses to Reo Coker Burns His Boats

  1. smashinghammer says:

    Nigel REO-JOKER,No Heart.No Soul.
    West Ham players will always be judged on whay they leave on the pitch for the shirt.You don’y have to be the best player in the world or even close for that matter,but what you must show is passion and effort ALWAYS no matter what for the THE DICKY DIRT.Reo- Joker shows none,so piss off to no-wheresville and die a slow death as when it gets to tough for you there you will start to lip-drag again and whinge about everyone and everything.Players like you a – dime – dozen,resigned to a life of Nigel Medi-oker.

  2. Connor says:


  3. Tony Finnegan is, by a distance, the worst football agent in the cosmos.

    I read a quote from him last week with the phrase “Nigel is ecstatic that such a massive club have come in for him”. (Shall you tell him or shall I?)

    This after he tried to engineer a move to Man Utd or Arsenal, and then Newcastle, before lowering his sights to “Any One Who Will Have Him”.

    Nigel, word of advice – get a sentient being as a your agent.

  4. Robert says:

    To be fair NRC was promised a move which his bosses then stoppped and then like evry immature kid whose promise was broken he stayed in a strop.

    Pardew’s mistakes were not selling NRC and Harewood for 10m each 12 months ago.

    That said I hope he dont end up at spurs.

  5. Mac says:

    As I’ve said before the guy needs to develop a much thicker skin otherwise he’ll never be at a club for long.

    It’s a shame though ultimately. The guy could have developed into a massive player for us for many seasons, but took criticism way too personally, along of course with swallowing whole every word his agent put his way; the agent who will benefit hugely from his player’s move.

    Agents have a lot to answer for if you ask me. I wonder how much they destabilise their players when they see they’re unhappy? It’s in their own interests after all.

  6. Westhamdave says:

    I don’t understand how this has been allowed to happen. West ham have/had in reo-coker a potentially excellent player for the future. Why do clubs allow players to get so isolated they feel leaving is the best option. In europe a young player like this is cared for, given direction and it is demonstrated to them the coaching they will receive will make them far better players. It seems as if players once they leave the pitch, training or playing that they are left alone to the mercy of agents, the media and their own thoughts. Does it not behoove clubs to take care of a player’s development in all areas of their lives, emotional and psychological as well as on the paddock.

  7. Mac says:

    Extract from a conversation between NRC and Tony Finnegan sometime in the future:

    NRC: “Tony, I keep getting stick from the Villa fans and Martin’s not really backing me up in the press. It’s so unfair – I just don’t deserve it.”

    Finnegan: “Nigel, believe me, you need to get out of there. Leave it to me'”

    NRC: “Phew. Thanks Tony. Knew I could rely on you.”

  8. James Tumbridge says:

    How at 23 can Reo-Coker still be elligible to play for England under 21? Try as I might, I cannot seem to find the answer on the UEFA or FIFA website as to how you define Under 21 if players are competiting when over 21.

  9. Deano says:

    I would love him to end up at spurs.

    It wouldnt take them long to see they have a vastly over-rated west ham reject on their hands.

  10. Gareth says:

    James Tumbridge – I’ve asked the same question. I believe if a player plays in the qualifiers when 21 they are eligible to play in the tournament. I have been told that they are allowed 2 over 21’s only but I’m not sure. ALSO!!! – Tony Finnegan is a TERRIBLE agent, he is going to ruin Reo-Coker’s career. I truly think if it wasn’t for him Reo-Coker would still be happy at West Ham. It’s disgusting!

  11. Nelson says:

    Sorry westhamdave but you are way off the mark, NRC has become isolated as a result of his performances and attitude on the pitch (and he’s not the only one). for the past 12 months, since we turned down the bid from arsenal he hasnt given a toss about west ham and the fans, his body language, work-rate and commitment has been there for all to see. The man is a disgrace, a stroppy, disloyal pretencious………

    one more thing, on top of all this,purely as a footballer he wouldnt be in the starting 11 next year -so come on curbs GET RID!!!!

  12. Connor says:

    Notice how Reo-Coker only gave 110% against Aresnal? lol

    Trying to impress aresen wanker..

    I’m glad he’s leaving..

  13. ny hammer says:

    i d love to get to the real truth as to why Coker feels the need to go to a club like Villa. what do they have to offer that s really any better than west ham? is it soley a question of wages? or is it that he didn t see eye to eye with Curbishley,despite Curbishley asking the press and fans to cut him some slack? or is it simply that he can t accept the criticism that was leveled at him for the team s dismal first half of the season? or is it that he rates Oneill that much as a manager. maybe a combination of all of the above. given the choice of living in london or birmingham, given the option of staying at a club like west ham where the new owner has shown clear intent to move the club forward , i still find it hard to understand why he is so keen to leave. obviously if the guy wants out, then we ve got to sell him , and as such i hope he has a good under 21 tournament so we can get a better price for him. but it still doesn t take away that nagging feeling in me that the guy is throwing away a chnace to be part of what can become a very very good west ham side over the next 2 to 3 years.

  14. Lee Mason says:

    Let him go, we have Mark Noble, a LOYAL Player with a genuine car for West Ham. Scott Parker too should prove more than adequate cover.

    I would personally take the 7 million from Villa or offer him to Wigan on Sheffield Utd for 3 million

  15. David King says:

    I think its a shame its got this far. Nigel is a very good player and wasn’t the only one who under achieved earlier this season. He is young and I think would have been an excellent player for a good few years. But…….Shit has happened and the bridges may be too far burnt. Maybe he should see Marlon Harewood and take a few lessons in humility and dignity on how to leave a club. If he doesn’t give West Ham any credit for giving him the platform to perform in the premiership then he is one very sad, immature little boy.

  16. ny hammer says:

    this is exactly right- westham gave him the platform ,and he seems to have lost sight of that conveniently.

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