The academy of football - The MirrorFootball best homegrown West Ham XI
West Ham are not for nothing known as the 'Academy of football' - the club has produced more stars than X Factor and Britain's Got Talent combined.
But the famous youth system could now be under threat, with the new owners Davids Gold and Sullivan reportedly ready to break with tradition by buying in players instead of using homegrown Hammers such as Mark Noble and Jack Collison.
To illustrate just how many top players have come along the proverbial conveyor belt of talent, MirrorFootball's Rob Burnett brings you the best West Ham academy XI. All the players in this impressive team came through the ranks at Upton Park, as did the subs, and even the manager...
Goalkeeper: Mervyn Day
Could have signed for Ipswich or Tottenham as a youngster but opted for Ron Greenwood's West Ham instead. Became first choice between the sticks in 1974 and the following year became the youngest ever goalkeeper to appear in an FA Cup final when the Hammers beat Fulham at Wembley. Was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1975 - still the only goalkeeper ever to win the award. Left the club in 1979 and had spells with Leyton Orient, Aston Villa and Leeds.
Defender: Frank Lampard Snr
Right-footed but happier at left-back, Daddy Lampard played played 660 games for the Hammers in an 18-year spell with the club, and even earned a couple of caps for England. Returned to Upton Park in 1994 as assistant manager to his brother-in-law Harry Redknapp, when he oversaw the rise of his son and namesake.
Defender: Glen Johnson
Greenwich-born Johnson joined the Hammers aged 15 in 2000 and signed his first professional contract the following year. A short loan spell at Millwall followed before he returned to Upton Park to try to help the Hammers avoid relegation. His last match in the Claret and Blue was an away draw at Birmingham that saw the club drop out of the Premier League. Sold to Chelsea soon after for £6million, then spent three seasons at Portsmouth before joining Liverpool last summer. Now established as England's first choice right-back.
Defender: Bobby Moore (Captain)
The Barking boy turned World Cup-winning England captain made the West Ham first team aged just 17, and stayed there for the next 16 years. As skipper he led the Hammers to victory in the 1964 FA Cup and 1965 European Cup-Winners' Cup and is rated by Pele as the best defender he ever faced.
Click here to read more about Bobby Moore plus see amazing pictures from our archive
Defender: Rio Ferdinand
Charlton, Chelsea, Millwall and Queens Park Rangers all vied for his signature as a junior but he plumped for West Ham and joined the youth system in 1992. Made his debut in 1996 and won Hammer of the Year when he was just 19. He was just 22 when David O'Leary paid a whopping £18m to take him to Leeds but he justified the fee with excellent performances alongside Jonathan Woodgate as he cemented his place in the England side. Moved again in 2002 when Manchester United paid £30m for him - making him the world's most expensive defender and the most expensive British player ever. Following in the footsteps of his defensive partner in our Academy dream team, he's now captain of England.
Midfield: Joe Cole
Was a household name before he was even a first team regular and was touted as the next Paul Gascoigne before he turned 16. Was made captain by Glenn Roeder aged just 21, but despite his immense talents he was not able to lead the Hammers to safety as they were relegated in 2003. Winning the Hammer of the Year award that season was little consolation. He swapped East London for West soon after when he joined nouveau riche Chelsea as part of the Abramovich revolution and won the Premier League twice under Jose Mourinho. Has not featured much under Carlo Ancelotti and with new contract talks in difficulty he looks likely to move on in the summer, with long time admirer Alex Ferguson thought to be keen to take him to United.
Midfield: Trevor Brooking
Sir Trev is a living West Ham legend having scored the winner in the 1980 FA Cup final win over Arsenal and for serving the club with distinction for 17 years. Despite a mammoth 636 appearances in the Claret and Blue in which he scored 103 goals, he had a Lineker-esque disciplinary record and is one of football's true gentlemen. After retiring he continued to serve the club as a director and caretaker manager - narrowly failing to keep the club up in 2003 after Glenn Roeder was taken ill. Adds a touch of class to our team.
Click here for a biography and classic pictures of Sir Trevor Brooking
Midfield: Frank Lampard Jnr
Was never going to join any other club when his dad was a former player and assistant manager and his uncle Harry was boss, but was given a hard time when he got into the first team by fans who thought there was a touch of nepotism going on. After nearly 150 League games and 24 goals for the Hammers he signed for Chelsea for £11m in 2001 and has never looked back, winning a stack of medals and establishing himself as a key player for England.
Midfield: Michael Carrick
With Cole, Brooking and Lampard surging forward, our team is in dire need of someone to anchor the midfield, and Carrick is that man. The Geordie came through the ranks with the likes of Joe Cole and, along with Cole, scored in the 9-0 FA Cup Youth final win against Coventry. Stayed on at Upton Park for one season after relegation but left in 2004 for Tottenham for just £2.75m - an astute bit of business by Spurs, who later sold him to Manchester United for £18m.
Striker: Geoff Hurst
The only man ever to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final, Hurst might never have done it had Ron Greenwood not converted him from a midfielder to a striker. Apart from his England heroics he scored scored 180 League goals for West Ham in more than 400 appearances and won the FA Cup in 1964 and European Cup-Winners' Cup the year after.
Click here to see amazing pictures of Hurst from our archive
Striker: Tony Cottee
TC just edges out Jermain Defoe for the other striker's position. Scored on his debut against Spurs in 1983 when he was just 17 and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 1986 when his goals helped the Hammers to third in the League - their highest ever finish. Was briefly the most expensive signing for a British club when he joined Everton in 1988 for £2.2million, and later returned to West Ham in 1994 for a second spell.
Manager: Harry Redknapp
Not only bossed the Hammers for seven years in the 90s, but also came through the youth system and played in the same team as Bobby Moore, racking up nearly 150 appearances in midfield.
Subs: Martin Peters, Paul Ince, Jermain Defoe, Alan Devonshire, Anton Ferdinand
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