Stuart Slater Interview

Former West Ham United midfielder Stuart Slater has had his say on the current situation at West Ham, the ruthlessness of the academy system and his individual achievements and future aspirations.

Slater made over 500 professional appearances as a footballer, mainly remembered for his time at West Ham.

Growing up as a fan of West Ham and making over 140 appearances for the club, Slater described the feeling of making his debut for his boyhood club, “All the years of training when I was a young kid, all those nights, all those extra hours, at the time you think to yourself all that hard work and this is only the start! It was a great moment but I knew it was only the start”.

The magic of the FA Cup was certainly alive in the in the early 90’s, and Slater gave the West Ham fans a night to remember in a memorable victory over Everton, putting on a performance that was nothing short of exceptional.

Slater himself has fond memories of that game and had plenty to say when asked about it, “It was live on Sky, we were in Div 2 and Everton were the top team, winning titles like Man United and Liverpool were”

“We were the underdogs and I had the game of my life! All of the main media were there and it was such a high-profile game, I played really well and scored the winning goal, it was a magical night to be involved in”.

On that night, the Hammers fans were chanting Slater’s name for England, and he explains just how important the West Ham fans were in his time there, “They’re intelligent fans, but their passionate, loyal and honest. If they see you working hard and you don’t have a good day, they’ll accept that”

“They won’t accept if you don’t try for the badge, but if you were having a good day, my goodness the fans were amazing. For them to chant my name for England after that game, it was the best feeling ever”

West Ham currently find themselves in a difficult situation, with the transition away from Upton Park to the London Stadium not being as smooth as many would have hoped.

Slater discussed the move away and his thoughts on the London Stadium, “Obviously no one wanted to leave Upton Park. 100 years we had been there and the atmosphere was incredible”

“When the London Stadium became available, you think, 60,000 West Ham fans, we can compete with the big boys. At the minute, we are not having a good time and there are protests left right and centre about where the money’s gone. However, I think in the future it will definitely be a winner for us”

“You know what it’s like, if we had a winning team now and were in the top six, no one would be talking about the stadium, but because we’ve been struggling, all we will talk about is the negatives”.

When asked about his future aspirations and the possibility of becoming a manager, Slater spoke very honestly about the academy system and the ruthless nature of how it works.

Slater said, “I think it (manager role) did interest me a few years ago. I did the academy at West Ham for five years and that was a massive insight for me. I love working with kids, but the way they are brought into the academy system and then let go, I didn’t like it at all”

“It’s a ruthless business even at that level, you have to be a certain type of manager, a certain type of person, which I don’t think I’ve got in me to be that ruthless. It was my responsibility to let them know that they weren’t good enough, and to see their faces, crying uncontrollably, it didn’t fit well with me”.

Finally, when asked about how he would like to be remembered, Slater hoped to achieve more than he did, but that does not account for the excellent career he had as a footballer. He said, “I’d like to be remembered for somebody that was skilful, an entertainer and brought a bit of joy to people”

“I look back, I had injuries, and people say I didn’t achieve what I could have, which was a top, top player for England. Some people say that I brought them so much happiness that era and you don’t realise. I wish I could have done a bit more in my life and being a footballer, it goes so quick!”

“I worked hard as a kid. If you want to be a footballer, you’ve got to have a bit of luck and natural ability, but you have to work hard for it”.

By Frankie Levin (@FrankWHUFC)

Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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