With the ongoing rumours that Jermain Defoe is set to make a return to the Hammers next season, here are 3 other players who left West Ham and returned
Julian Dicks (1988 – 1993) & (1994 -1999)
The current Assistant Manager was first signed by John Lyall for £300,000 in 1988 and after a slow start, he quickly established himself as a both a first-team regular and a fans favourite. A cultured left-back whose combative nature perhaps overshadowed his undoubted talent.
Throughout both spells with West Ham Dicks won plaudits for his wholehearted approach and was very unlucky not to receive international recognition. During Dicks first spell West Ham were relegated and promoted twice during a tumultuous period in the club’s history, both on and off the pitch. He didn’t play for the Hammers for over a year between October 1990 and December 1991 due to a knee injury, which would blight the rest of his career. In the final season of his first spell, Dicks was sent off three times which led to him being stripped of the captaincy by Billy Bonds. Despite his issues, Dicks played a significant part in getting the club into the Premier League.
Dicks performances caught the eye of Liverpool manager Graeme Souness, who described the left back as “his kind of player” and in September 1993, with West Ham desperate for transfer funds to strengthen the squad, Dicks joined Liverpool. He made his debut in a 2-0 defeat in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, a game made famous by the altercation between Steve MacManaman and Bruce Grobbelaar. Souness was a huge fan but Liverpool were in a transitional stage and once Souness was sacked in January 1994 his time at the club was always likely to be cut short. Souness’ replacement Roy Evans was not a fan of Dicks’ style of play or how he looked after himself away from the game, In Spring 1994 Evans sent Dicks to train with youth team as punishment for being overweight and it appeared that his chances to play would be severely curtailed under the new regime. Dicks does have the unique honour of scoring the final goal in front of the standing Spion Kop against Ipswich in 1994, he played his last game for the club against Aston Villa at the end of the 1993-94 season.
Dicks re-signed for the Hammers in September 1994 against the then Chairman’s Terry Brown’s advice, who described Harry Redknapp as being “off his rocker” for signing a visibly overweight Dicks.
Despite this, Dicks went on to play a huge part in West Ham consolidating their position in the Premier League during the mid-90. The 1995-96 season saw him finish joint top scorer along with Tony Cottee on 10 goals. He was again an integral part of the side that survived relegation in the 1996-1997 season and scored two crucial goals in the 4-3 win over London rivals Tottenham in the February of 1997. Dicks influence slowly waned after the 1996-97 season, he missed the entire 1997-98 due to injury and only played 6 games of the 1998-99 season.
Dicks had his contract terminated by the club and he retired from professional Football in 1999.
During two spells with the club, Dicks played 315 times scoring 64 goals.
Joe Cole (1998-2003) & (2013-2014)
Joe Cole was one of English football’s hottest properties when he burst onto the scene in the late 90’s as part of the West Ham youth side which won the Youth Cup in 1999. He was so highly sought after that it was reported at the time that Sir Alex Fergusson was considering a £10 million bid for the skillful youngster. Cole made his first team debut in an FA Cup tie against Swansea City in 1999 and from that point on his influence on the team and club grew and grew. Cole formed part of a homegrown trio in midfield, along with Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick, which led to all three receiving international recognition during their time with the Hammers.
Glenn Roeder made Cole his captain at the tender age of 21 during the 2002-2003 season and despite West Ham’s relegation, Cole received recognition for his performances often in a losing cause. He was voted Hammer of the year for the 2002-03 season. His last game for West Ham in his first spell was in the 2-2 draw with Birmingham which confirmed the club’s relegation in May 2003. Cole was transferred to Chelsea for £6.6 million in the summer of 2003 and went to thrive under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho. Cole won every domestic trophy during his time with the West London club and made himself a regular in the England team that became known as the Golden generation starring in the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany. The latter part of Cole’s Chelsea career was impacted by two significant knee injuries, Cole played his last game in the 2010 FA Cup final and left to join Liverpool as a free agent that summer.
Cole became Roy Hodgson’s first signing but a combination of injuries and poor form meant he struggled to establish himself at Anfield and was loaned to French club Lille in 2011.
Cole enjoyed a renaissance with the side from Northern France and starred in the side’s midfield alongside Eden Hazard. Lille were keen to keep Cole, but he returned to Liverpool in 2012 hoping to force his way into new manager Brendan Rodgers plans. Injury struck again and severely restricted Cole’s time on the pitch and he returned to West Ham in January 2013.
Cole made his second debut in 2-2 draw in the FA Cup against Manchester United at Upton Park, he assisted both James Collins goals. Despite his obvious quality, injuries had clearly taken their toll on this wonderfully gifted footballer and Cole played a bit part in the club stabilising themselves in the Premier League.
A hugely decorated player, Cole’s creative instincts were not really channelled or embraced by English football. It could be argued that Chelsea made him a more effective player by giving structure to his game, it did, however, clip his wings somewhat from a creative perspective. Cole went on to play for Aston Villa and Coventry before moving to play with NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Cole is without doubt one of the most skilful players West Ham have ever produced, the crime being that is was Chelsea who saw the best of him.
Cole played 163 times scoring 15 goals over two spells with the club.
Tony Cottee (1982-1988) & (1994-1996)
As moments go, scoring your first goal on your debut for your boyhood club against your local rivals would be very hard to beat, but that’s exactly what Tony Cottee did on New Year’s Day 1983 in front of a packed Upton Park.
Born in Forest Gate, Cottee was a boyhood Hammers fan who attended the 1980 Cup Final at Wembley as a fan and was inspired by Paul Allen’s exploits in the game. Just over three years later, Cottee was playing alongside his childhood heroes.
A diminutive striker with an eye for goal, Cottee quickly established himself in the first-team and formed a potent strike partnership with Frank MacAvennie, which helped fire the Hammers to their best ever league finish of 3rd in 1986. Cottee contributing 20 goals, winning the PFA young player of the year.
Despite a disappointing 86-87 season for the club, Cottee scored 23 Goals and earned an International call up to Bobby Robson’s England side which only further increased the transfer speculation around the player. The final season of his first spell saw Cottee struggled after MacAvennie was sold to Celtic and West Ham struggled to find a replacement for the Scot. Cottee still scored 13 goals and helped West Ham finish 16th. Disillusioned with the clubs failure to meet his own ambition, Cottee joined Everton for £2.2 million which temporarily made him the most expensive player signed by a British club.
A feature of Cottee’s career was his bad luck in terms of timing, although he scored a number of goals for the Merseyside club and reached both the 1989 FA Cup final and the Final of the Full Members Cup, Cottee’s time at the club is book end by the club winning the league the season before he joined (86-87) and then winning the FA Cup in 1995.
After the club narrowly avoiding relegation in 1994 Cottee was sold back to West Ham as part of a deal involving David Burrows going the other way.
Cottee didn’t get off the greatest of starts in his return to the club by getting sent off only an hour into his second debut against Liverpool at Anfield, but his 10 goals helped West Ham secure their Premier League survival and his 13 league goals the following year helped the Hammers to the their highest league position (10th) since the 1986 season.
Cottee fell out of favour with West Ham as the club signed Hugo Porfirio and Florin Raduicioiu and he left the club to play in Malaysia.
Cottee went on to play for a variety of clubs including Leicester City, Norwich, Birmingham City, Millwall, and Barnet becoming only the second person to play in all four divisions in England in the one season.
Cottee is 17th in the all-time goal scoring list and were it not for the potent Beardsley/Lineker strike partnership, surely would have earned more than the seven international caps he received.
Over his two spells with West Ham Cottee played 279 league games and scored 115 league goals.