Players From The Past: Robert Green
Popular England International goalkeeper Robert Green was another name in a long line of Three Lions shot-stoppers to have worn the famous Claret & Blue on a football pitch, representing West Ham United between the years of 2006 and 2012.
In the latest edition of Players From The Past, we look back at the charismatic keeper’s lengthy and ongoing career, detailing his time in East London, how did he find his way to the Boleyn Ground? Why did his Irons career end on such a high? And more importantly, where is he now?
The soon to be world-famous keeper was born in Chertsey, Surrey, England in January 1980 and grew up dreaming of becoming a professional footballer and more specifically, a shot-stopper.
Once Green started playing football, he was inspired and determined to figure between the sticks, starting out his career in the youth team of Norwich City and working his way up the various levels.
It wouldn’t be long before, as a teenager, the Englishman made his debut for the first-team of the Canaries in 1999, while also representing his nation at youth level in that time.
Green would go on to shine for England on the senior stage too, earning over ten caps from 2005 to 2012 and making the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2012 European Championships.
The eccentric character would have also featured at the 2006 World Cup had it not been for an injury in the build-up to the tournament and was also the first ever England keeper to be sent off in a competitive match.
However unfortunately for him, the man with quick reflexes’ Three Lions career was somewhat defined by a mistake in a group match in South Africa in 200 against the United States, spilling a routine Clint Dempsey effort over his line, which saw him dropped and only appear for his nation a handful of further times.
But, back to his club career and having impressed enough to become Norwich’s first-choice keeper by the early noughties, Green helped the club to promotion to the Premier League during the 2003/2004 season.
While at Carrow Road, Green featured alongside striker Dean Ashton, whom he would be reunited with at West Ham when he joined for £2 million in summer 2006.
The move followed the Canaries’ relegation back to the First Division and failure to regain Top-Flight status in the underwhelming campaign that occurred thereafter.
There was much excitement about the four-year deal and it wouldn’t take the 26-year-old much time to break into the first-team at the expense of Roy Carroll.
Green did so just a few months into his time in East London, holding the No1 spot from October 2006 and playing much of what remained of the 2006/2007 season.
The campaign was a difficult one for the Hammers as they were heavily threatened by relegation, but somehow managed to survive with a final day victory over newly-crowned champions Manchester United.
The feat was hailed “The Great Escape” and Green was credited with having a big hand in it, quite literally, cementing his pace as the first-choice ahead of the 2007/2008 season.
Under Alan Curbishley for the first full term, the England man flourished as the Hammers enjoyed a much more consistent campaign, finishing tenth in the Premier League standings.
Green’s most notable contribution was a run of three consecutive penalty saves in the first half of the campaign and countless clean sheets, not missing a single PL match.
His efforts placed him firmly as a favourite amongst the Claret & Blue Army and as a result, he won the 2007/2008 Hammer of the Year Award, the club’s Player of the Season.
The ex-Norwich star’s consistency continued throughout the next two campaigns and despite links with Arsenal at the height of his powers, he remained loyal to the East Londoners throughout.
In the next two seasons, Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham would challenge for European football and then fight for their lives, surviving in 2009/2010, however, a change of ownership did mean that Avram Grant replaced Zola at the end of that season.
One of the side from East London’s worst seasons on record followed and in spite of Green’s best efforts throughout, he could not stop the Hammers’ relegation back to the Npower Championship.
Once again, in the corresponding summer, as Sam Allardyce replaced Grant, there was much interest in the keeper, although again, he decided to remain in East London.
The risk paid off with Green returning to some of the best form of his career in 2011/2012 while Allardyce’s men defeated Blackpool in the play-off final to clinch an instant return to the Top-Flight.
The keeper was a regular starter for the entirety of the campaign, but the successful season would be his last in Claret & Blue, seeking a new challenge in the next few months.
The main reason for this was that the club were unable to negotiate the terms that Green wanted on a new contract and now into his 30s, after a hugely impressive spell, with the Hammers, he moved to fellow Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.
Now approaching the twilight years of his career, the goalkeeper tussled with Brazilian Julio Cesar in his QPR early years, but when he was sold under new boss Harry Redknapp, Green returned to the Xl.
He would play three seasons in the Top-Flight for the Rs until they were relegated, the third relegation of his career at the end of the 2014/2015 season.
The ex-Hammers stayed a further season, although his contract wasn’t renewed at the end of 2015/2016, leaving for fellow Championship outfit Leeds United in the summer of 2016.
Green helped the Yorkshire side to a mid-table Championship finish, but errors were coupled with match-winning displays and he would depart after a single campaign, leading to the club he now plays for.
Nowadays, and at the ripe old age of 38, remarkably, the keeper is still playing professional football with David Wagner’s Premier League Huddersfield Town as second-choice to Jonas Lossl.
However, Green hasn’t made a single appearance this season and is believed to be also studying a business degree at the Open University in preparation for his retirement.
The evergreen Robert Green may have made his fair share of mistakes in E13, but he will forever be fondly remembered by the Claret & Blue Army for the triumphant moments and his status of being one of the best goalkeepers to play for any of the clubs his 19-year career has seen him represent.