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Paulo Futre explains No.10 shirt furore at West Ham – and why he loved the Hammers

Paulo Futre West Ham

The former Portugal winger helped Porto win the 1987 European Cup, before moving to Atletico Madrid and captaining Los Colchoneros to back-to-back Copa del Rey wins in 1991 and 1992.

Futre was never quite the same player after sustaining a serious knee injury on his debut for Reggiana in 1993. After making a solitary league appearance for Milan in 1995/96, he decided to move to England and join Harry Redknapp’s West Ham, where he says he was in his element.

Speaking in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo, out on Tuesday (November 19), he says: “I absolutely loved my time there. West Ham were a smaller club – I’d been used to fighting for trophies, but they were a mid-table side.

“I enjoyed not having to spend the night before homes game in a hotel, and I was also a fan of Redknapp’s training sessions. He usually placed us in two teams, foreigners vs English players. There was some rivalry and I had a lot of fun – they were intense games that got us ready for matches.”

Futre eventually made nine Premier League appearances for the east Londoners, but not before storming out of what would have been his debut against Arsenal at Highbury, after discovering that midfielder John Moncur was wearing the No.10 shirt which he had sported throughout pre-season.

“We’d agreed on that contract clause and I played the whole of pre-season with it,” explains the 53-year-old. “Then came our first game at Arsenal. I’d warmed up, had a shower and was about to get changed when I saw the No.16 jersey waiting for me. I shouted, “No, not f**king 16! Number 10!

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“There are a few things from my career that I don’t feel comfortable telling my children about, and that was one of them. But then in 2011, my oldest son phoned me and said, 'Dad, I’m proud of you'.

“I asked him why, and he said he’d watched a video of Redknapp saying the maddest moment he experienced was when I refused to play. I never thought my son would be proud. Then I realised that if I’d accepted the situation, I would have been the little coward that didn’t stick to his word.

“Was it easy convincing Moncur to swap? I had a house in the Algarve, overlooking the best golf course anyone could find. I knew he liked golf, so I said he was welcome to go there whenever he wanted. He never had the chance in the end, because I only stayed at West Ham for a short time!”

Read the full interview with Paulo Futre in the December 2019 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. In a managers special, Rafa Benitez gives us the lowdown on Liverpool, Mike Ashley and Real Madrid, and former Ostersund miracle-worker Graham Potter outlines his ambitions with Brighton. We also catch up with former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who shares his 10-point plan to ensure success in the dugout, and hear how ex-Rangers and Leeds defender David Robertson ended up in a war zone leading Real Kashmir. Elsewhere, we remember the darkest hours that helped Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Brian Clough, Carlo Ancelotti and more forge incredible careers, find out why Diego Simeone became one of the decade's most decorated managers, and hail the maddest gaffers of all time.