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West Ham’s Winston Reid Exclusive Part One: I thought about leaving after nightmare first season

10:29 31 January 2013

West Ham United's Winston Reid celebrates after scoring his sides second goal against Millwall.

West Ham United's Winston Reid celebrates after scoring his sides second goal against Millwall.

EMPICS Sport

Hammers defender Winston Reid talks to Dave Evans about his life and times

Winston Reid in his FC Midtjlland days in DenmarkWinston Reid in his FC Midtjlland days in Denmark

When West Ham boss Sam Allardyce was asked who was the most consistent player in his team this season, many would have expected the names of Kevin Nolan, Jussi Jaaskelainen or Mo Diame to spring to his lips.

“Winston Reid has been my most consistent player by a long, long way,” said the Hammers manager and he is absolutely right.

The 24-year-old central defender has come a long way since that disaster at Villa Park on his debut in August 2010 when he was selected to play at right back and had in his own words ‘an absolute nightmare’.

He still remembers that day with a little shudder. “I had never played right back in my life,” said Reid this week, now a fully-established Premier League player, compared to the raw youngster that played that day.

Winston Reid, West Ham UnitedWinston Reid, West Ham United

“I had to play there in my first game and I couldn’t really say anything, but it wasn’t my best debut.”

It was difficult for the New Zealander off the field as well as he admits. “It can be hard sometimes trying to settle and I think the fans don’t realise that,” he said.

“The first couple of months you are in a hotel room, bored as hell.

“I called my family over after the first week so I could do something with them. Now my Mum moans that I don’t call her enough!” he laughs, the laugh of a man confident with his position in life and his role at West Ham.

It had certainly been a gamble for Reid to come to the Premier League from Danish outfit FC Mitjylland and as West Ham crashed towards relegation it looked like it had been a huge mistake.

“I knew that I wanted to come to England, but wasn’t sure if I had to do it via another country first as it is a big leap. There are not a lot of people who have gone from the Danish League to the Premier League,” he said.

Clearly manager Avram Grant did not think he was up to the job and he made Reid question his future at the club.

“I think I played in the FA Cup and the Carling Cup semi-final, but then two or three league games and that was it, my last game was in February that season.

“I won’t lie, after that I wanted to leave. It was tough for me personally because you want to do well as a footballer, but I wasn’t given a chance.

“It was the coaches’ choice not to use me. When you look back at it, I am sure it made me stronger as a person, when you hit a brick wall like that.”

West Ham were relegated, Grant was sacked and the rest for Reid is an amazing resurrection of the defender’s ability and confidence and much of that he puts down to Allardyce.

“At the end of the first week of pre-season all the players got to speak to the manager,” revealed the Kiwi. “I had a 15-minute chat with him and he told me that New Zealand have got some nice wines! That was funny, I enjoyed that.

“He is a funny guy. When he needs to be serious he is, but he can have a joke as well and it is an important part of the job in getting to communicate with your players.

Learned

“I have learned a lot from the manager, obviously he was a defender himself, so that does help, he’s given me a couple of good pointers.”

It certainly seems to have worked. Last season Reid was one of the stars of the team that won promotion and this term he has stepped up another level and been West Ham’s best player.

“It is always nice when the manager says nice things about you, but for me this year it is just about doing the best for the team back in the Premier League,” he explained. “Obviously the first year here was a bit tough for me, I just wanted to prove myself and I think that I have.”

He certainly has and after a disastrous start he has become one of the top central defenders in the Premier League.

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