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Mark Noble has been named West Ham’s new sporting director, returning to his childhood club just four months after retiring.

Noble ended his 18-year playing career with the Hammers at the end of last season, having made over 500 appearances.

The midfielder had not announced his retirement plans, but was told there would be a role for him at the club whenever he wanted one, and the 35-year-old is now scheduled to start in January.

Noble will “work closely in support of manager David Moyes, as well as working with the Board of Directors, providing insight, guidance, and help across all parts of the football operation,” according to a club release.

“I’m really happy to be coming back and can’t wait to get started,” said Noble, who undertook a sports business leadership course at Harvard University this summer in preparation for the job.

“I’ve spent the last 24 years as a player at West Ham, first in the Academy and then in the first team, and obviously have a deep knowledge and understanding of the Club.

“In particular, the last two years, as my playing days began to naturally wind down, gave me a fantastic opportunity to really spend some time educating myself and gaining greater knowledge and understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

“West Ham United has made some fantastic strides forward in that period and I am really looking forward to coming back at such an exciting time.”

Noble, who came through West Ham’s development system, spent his entire professional career at the east London club, with the exception of two brief loan periods as a kid, and was given a fitting send-off following his final home game, against Manchester City, in May.

The Englishman also had a pitch at the club’s Chadwell Heath academy named in his honour and in his new role Noble is expected to play a significant part in guiding the Hammers’ young talent, “with a particular focus on ensuring players both progressing through the ranks and new to the club are nurtured in the West Ham United football philosophy and values”.

“The last two seasons have been a time of great progress, and I want to help us to continue moving forwards in the right direction,” he added.

“I believe in the ambition shown by the board and I am excited about helping to build on the success that has been delivered so far.”