On one day, a simply world-class forward and on another, a striker inept for the standard of the Premier League, controversial Argentina youth International Mauro Zarate wore the famous Claret & Blue between the years of 2014 and 2016.
But, what were his highlights at Upton Park? Why was his time in East London cut short amid an admirable run of form? And more importantly, where is he now?
Born in Argentina’s Capital in spring 1987, the youngster always wanted to play Football and signed up on the books of hometown team Velez Sarsfield at a very young age.
Eventually making his first-team debut in 2004, a young Zarate helped Velez to the 2005 Argentinian Primera Division Title with a wealth of strikes, netting the joint-highest goals in the Division for the season the year after.
By this stage, he had been spotted by selectors of Argentina’s Youth set-up and was drafted into the U20 team, the future looked very bright indeed as he scored the winner in the 2007 U20 World Cup Final, lifting the Trophy alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.
His exploits saw him attract interest from outside South America, most notably from Quarter-based side Al-Sadd for an astronomical fee, though his tie with them would largely consist of loans.
This was to the Premier League with Birmingham City, his multiple goals unable to save them from Relegation during the 2007/20008 campaign, meaning that he returned to the Middle East.
The striker then followed his roots to Italy, where he joined Lazio and enjoyed a successful spell, his loan being made permeant at the end of his first term in his Country of origin.
However, things didn’t quite pan out from here, another loan with Inter Milan did see him figure in the Champions League, but come the conclusion of the following campaign, 2012/2013, he was back in Argentina.
Zarate left Europe after a controversial trip to the Maldives with his family, while there, his club believed him to be having skin treatment in South America, a heavy fine was dealt.
He spent a very short period of time back with Sarsfield, helping them to win the 2013 Supercopa Argentina, however, Sam Allardyce had spotted his talent back in England and brought the character to London in summer 2014.
Zarate netted twice in an injury-hampered first season in the English Top-Flight, on debut at Selhurst Park and months later at Goodison Park, he spent the second-half of the campaign on loan at Queens Park Rangers, suffering another Relegation and being branded “a bad egg” In the Dressing Room.
When he returned to the Boleyn Ground a year after signing, new Boss Slaven Bilic was keen on the forward and wanted to keep him on, to the surprise of many.
His decision looked to be paying off when Zarate scored in the Qualifying Rounds of the Europa League and then again on the opening day of the season in a 0-2 win at the Emirates Stadium.
The former Inter man continued his fine form throughout the campaign with further strikes against Leicester City, Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion as West Ham United enjoyed their best ever PL season.
But, those goals would be his last in Claret & Blue, with an unsatisfactory amount of game time, Zarate moved back to Italy in January 2016 with European hopefuls Fiorentina.
The forward was sent off against his former club Internazionale in the Serie A, a month later and this set the tone for the most part of the rest of his La Viola spell, his second red card of his tenure in January of 2017 came in his last appearance in the Coppa Italia.
But, later in that month, he was given yet another chance to prove himself, back in England and back in the Capital with Watford, ironically a cruciate knee ligament injury against Bilic’s Hammers took that break away from him and that was the final time he appeared for the Hornets.
Nowadays, the striker is on loan in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr and has been heavily linked with a move back to Velez Sarsfield on a short-term deal in recent weeks.
Just like many other Caret & Blue stars of his era, it was very much a story of what could have been for Mauro Zarate in the colours of West Ham United, rare flashes of pure brilliance ruined by injuries and the controversy that seems to follow him wherever he goes, to this day.