Picking the top five best West Ham players ever wasn’t easy, but we’ve done it and we think we have the best list out there. Check out who we have chosen.
Last Updated: 16/06/23 at 12:40
A number of English Football legends have adorned the claret and blue of West Ham. They are one of England’s most historic clubs because of the players who have passed through their ranks.
And as such, it is always a difficult task to name a definitive top five best West Ham players ever. It’s even more difficult to name the very best player of all time.
But we feel fairly confident that the list we have come up with here is as close to perfect as you can get for a West Ham top five.
Give our list a read to find out who we have picked and why they get the spot they have been given.
1958 - 1974┃Games: 643┃Major Honours: 3
Number one on this list is number one for many English fans. Bobby Moore is one of the heroes of the 1966 World Cup-winning team, captaining the side to glory.
But he is also a West Ham legend who achieved tremendous success in relation to how many major honours the club has.
He was captain for the team when they won their first FA Cup in 1964, their one Community Shield in the same year (it was shared as the game finished level), and probably most importantly, their one and only European trophy, with a European Cup Winners’ Cup victory in 1965 (essentially, the equivalent of winning the Europa League).
In terms of his standout individual awards, Moore’s achievements accolades are as such:
- Ballon d’Or runner-up (1970)
- FWA Footballer of the Year (1964)
- West Ham Player of the Year award four times (1961, 1963, 1968, 1970)
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year (1966)(First football player to win it)
- Named to the World Team of the 20th Century
- Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame (2002)
- Had his number six retired by West Ham (2008)
Moore made 643 appearances for the Irons, scoring 27 goals along the way. He was a defensive stalwart and was often commended for being the calmest man in the stadium during any game, regardless of its importance.
Bobby Moore takes the number one spot on this list due to his overall importance to English football. It was close between him and number two, but for what he achieved with the team as well as on the national stage, he had to come in at the top for us.
1967 - 1988┃Games: 799┃Major Honours: 3
Billy Bonds comes in at a close second. There may be many West Ham fans that would disagree and argue that Bonds deserved the top spot, but this is our list and we have him narrowly beaten out by Moore.
Coming in around the time of Moore’s prime meant that Bonds was able to learn a lot from the legend, and obviously, he soaked up everything as well as having a natural ability as he went on to play for the club for 21 years.
A versatile player capable of playing as a full-back or even in midfield, Billy is mainly remembered for being a dominating central defender. He was a defender who would make very purposeful challenges. For any striker going up against him, they knew they were in for a long afternoon.
Bonds holds the Hammers record for first-team appearances with 799, a clear 139 games more than second-place Frank Lampard Sr. He played until he was 41 years old, holding the record for oldest player to start for West Ham (41 years 226 days to be specific).
The captain's armband was given to Bonds when Bobby Moore left in 1974, and as captain, he led the club to two FA Cup victories, the Second Division title in the 1980/81 season, and to the finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1975/76.
We have given Billy Bonds the second spot on this list, but know it wasn’t an easy decision to make. Really, we should have them both as joint-top, but again, it’s Moore’s overall contribution to English football as a whole that puts him over Bonds.
1966 - 1984┃Games: 643┃Major Honours: 3
A controlled and authoritative midfielder, Sir Trevor Brooking became an Irons legend through his loyalty to the club, as well as his importance and ability to get a goal when it mattered most.
Brooking won two FA Cups, in which he scored vital goals in both campaigns with his goal in the 1980 final giving the Hammers a 1-0 victory over Arsenal. He was also a member of the team that gained promotion back to the First Division by winning the Second Division title in 1981.
One of Brooking’s most impressive achievements is that he was never sent off in his career and was only booked a handful of times. He was seen as a typical English gentleman on the pitch, as he rarely contested a referee's decision and played with this quiet determination.
There were tough periods throughout his career. In late 1969, Brooking chipped a bone in his ankle which left him out of action for a long time. When his recovery started taking longer than expected, he considered hanging up his boots completely.
But it was his determination to get back to playing that made him the player he was and remembered for. He became a regular in the midfield after Martin Peters’ departure in 1970, and at the conclusion of the 1971/72 season, he was voted Hammer of the Year.
After his playing career, Brooking managed the Hammers twice, although only as a caretaker manager. He took charge for a total of 14 games over the two spells, in which he only lost once. Despite that remarkable feat, he never properly managed West Ham or any team for that matter.
Brooking takes the third spot on this list as his importance to the club was undeniable and his ability was second to none within the team.
1958 - 1972┃Games: 411┃Major Honours: 3
Geoff Hurst is similar to Bobby Moore in the sense that he is probably more remembered as an England legend than a West Ham legend. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is indeed one of the best West Ham players ever.
Hurst was an incredible goalscorer who bagged 249 goals, which has him second on the all-time list.
While not explicitly partners, together, Hurst and Moore spearheaded English and West Ham football and helped take both to the heights they ended up reaching throughout the pair's careers.
Hurst’s list of club and personal achievements includes:
- 1x FA Cup (1964)
- 1x Charity Shield (1964, shared)
- 1x European Cup Winners’ Cup (1965)
- 3x Hammer of the Year (1965/66, 1966/67, 1968/69)
- 3x World Soccer World XI (1967, 1968, 1969)
- English Football Hall of Fame (2004)
In Hurst’s best goal-scoring campaign, he scored 40 goals in 59 competitive games. That was in the 1965/66 season, and of course, after that, he went on to win the 1966 World Cup with England, where he became the only player in World Cup history to score a hat-trick in the final.
He also scored six goals in one game on one occasion, although that was rather overshadowed by the fact that he handled the ball for his first goal, leading to the headlines focusing on the illegitimate goal.
Still, Hurst ranks fourth on this list the same way Moore ranks number one - his contributions to English football as a whole as well as West Ham cannot be understated and deservedly sees him as an Irons great.
1920 - 1935┃Games: 505┃Major Honours: 0
West Ham’s original great was Vic Watson. The club's all-time top scorer bagged a massive 326 goals across his 15-year Hammer career, a record which simply looks impossible to beat. For that fact alone he deserves a spot in the top 5.
203 of the 326 goals came in just 295 Division One games, which only adds to his incredible scoring legacy.
Watson was signed in 1920 for the massive sum of £50, which is the equivalent of just under £5,000 today. An absolute steal for the East London side.
His goal-scoring peak was in the 1929/30 season when he scored 50 goals in 44 games. No, that is no typo. It isn’t the wrong way around. In that season, he scored eight braces, three hat-tricks and had one four-goal haul as he scored in at least 33 of the 44 games.
In another season, he made like Hurst and scored six goals in one game. Although all his goals were legitimate.
Despite all this, Watson’s name doesn’t come up nearly enough in the conversation of the greatest English players of all time. That may unfortunately come down to the fact that he achieved no major honours with the club.
Even with all the goals, they were scoring, West Ham could only ever achieve a Division two runners-up place and a FA Cup final-losing effort in Watson’s 15 years with the club - a mighty shame if you ask us.
Nevertheless, amongst the club records, the skilful striker is fondly remembered by fans of the club, and we have him here in the number four spot for best West Ham players ever.
- Martin Peters (1959-1970) - Played alongside Moore and Hurst, part of the 1966 World Cup winning side as well as shared their club achievements. Played 302 games for the club.
- Paulo Di Canio (1999-2003) - Only took the Italian four years to become beloved by the fans. His impact on the team was immeasurable.
- Frank Lampard Sr. (1967-1985) - 660 games played with 22 goals scored, father of Chelsea legend Frank Lampard is one of the most celebrated players in club history.
- Mark Noble (2004-2022) - A modern-day great, Noble has the most Premier League appearances for the club with 414 and is known as “Mr West Ham”.
- Julian Dicks (1988-1993) - A fan-favourite, “The Terminator” won Hammer of the Year four times between 1990-1997.
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