News Roundup

James Collins: “Heartbroken” Hammers Star Makes Emotional Instagram Statement

West Ham United defender James Collins revealed how he is “heartbroken” as his departure from East London approaches, in an emotional statement on the social media site Instagram yesterday afternoon.

The Welsh centre-back posted this on his Instagram account, with the caption being “As it stands I will be leaving West Ham on June 30th… Heartbroken,” the date his current contract expires.

As it stands I will be leaving West Ham on June 30th… Heartbroken 💔

A post shared by James Collins (@gingercollins19) on

It became apparent that the former Wales International wasn’t going to be offered an extension to his current deal, which started in 2015, last week in controversial circumstances.

Reports suggested that Collins, 34, was first informed that he would be leaving the club he has served for 11 years in two separate spells, last Tuesday visa an email.

Despite ex-Hammers such as Matthew Etherington and Danny Gabbidon, the latter of whom signed for the Irons with Collins in 2005, proclaiming that the rumours were true, the club have claimed that the veteran did know before the routine email was sent out to all players as a legal requirement.

This was the claim by Joint-Chairman David Gold as he appeared as a guest on TalkSport radio on Wednesday morning, to discuss the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as manager at London Stadium.

The speculation has angered many members of the Claret & Blue Army, who fondly refer to Collins as “The Ginger Pele,” as he has been a fan favourite for many years, often joining fans in the away end when side-lined when the Hammers are on the road.

Collins made just 15 senior appearances in all competitions during the 2017/2018 campaign, a string of injuries coupled with non-selection limiting his time on the field under Slaven Bilic and then David Moyes.

However, despite spending the final month and a half of the season out with injury, before his release was public knowledge, the centre-half did get to say goodbye to the fans that have adored him for over a decade.

The recently-departed Moyes introduced him as a late substitute in the season finale victory over Sam Allardyce’s Everton at London Stadium for the final few minutes, emotional ones.

He received a standing ovation as he replaced Aaron Cresswell, skipper Mark Noble giving him the captain’s armband as a token gesture and the star being reduced to tears at the full-time whistle after minutes of supporters continuously singing his name.

Collins has appeared in West Ham colours over 130 times, first signing up alongside the aforementioned Gabbidon 13 years ago and making just over a half-century of appearances in his first four years.

In his first spell, he helped the Hammers get to an FA Cup final and to remain in the Premier League, playing a part in the team’s 2006/2007 campaign “Great Escape” from relegation, defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford on the final day to beat the drop.

But, he has never been too far away from injury woes throughout a career that has included over 50 appearances for the Welsh national team, the highlight being a start in the 2016 UEFA European Championship semi-final defeat to Portugal.

The strong defender first left Upton Park in 2009, five years after joining from Cardiff City, deciding to go to Aston Villa, where he would spend three years and be just as popular.

In 2012, Collins hooked back up with a newly-promoted West Ham under Sam Allardyce where he has remained since, appearing on more occasions than in his first stint.

On account of spending over a decade in the capital in total, many Hammers supporters have called for the Welshman to be given a testimonial, although, with London Stadium in concert mode, this is understood to be unlikely to take place.

As it stands, the 34-year-old’s final goal in Claret & Blue will have been the opener in a 3-3 draw with AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day, the last of seven for the Hammers.

On Thursday morning, an announcement came from West Ham’s official website WHUFC.com, surrounding Collins’ future, after it appeared that he still might have had a faint chance of being offered a new deal, should new boss Pellegrini decided that he wanted him to be part of his plans.

The statement confirmed that the decision to release the defender from his contract at the end of it in June will stand and that is when he will leave the club after 11 years of loyal service, Gold’s fellow Joint-Chairman David Sullivan thanked Collins for all of his hard work and wished him the best for the future.

“We would like to place on record our sincere thanks for the outstanding service James has given West Ham United down the years.

“His bravery and commitment on the pitch were never called into question and he has played his part in establishing the Club in the Premier League since his return in 2012.

“We appreciate just how popular James is among our fellow supporters but, with the appointment of a new manager, we felt together that the time was right to go our separate ways.

“It goes without saying that we wish James and his family every success in the future and they will always be welcome at London Stadium.”

Along with Collins, the club also confirmed the release of French full-back Patrice Evra at the end of his short-term contract and youngsters Korrey Henry, Rosaire Longelo and Rihards Matrevics at the end of their scholarships, along with a quartet of backroom staff, Goalkeeping Coach Chris Woods, Head of Medical Services Gary Lewin, Club Doctor Ian Beasley and Head of Fitness Nick Davies.