Mark Noble set a new Premier League appearance record for West Ham on Saturday; surpassing the club’s previous highest Premier League appearance maker, Steve Potts. Noble led his side out at Upton Park to rapturous applause from the club faithful as he made his 205th Premier League appearance. Noble’s Premier League career spans from as early as August 2005 when he made his league debut in a 3-1 win against Blackburn, a day that saw none-other than Teddy Sheringham on the Hammers’ scoresheet.
West Ham is the only professional football club that Noble has signed for in his entire career, representing them at youth level before breaking into the first team in 2005. He had short-term loan spells at Hull City and Ipswich Town at the beginning of his professional career, but only figured 5 times for The Tigers and 13 times for The Tractor Boys.
Something that is less known by most football fans is that Noble represented England at every level from U16s to U21s. Noble (now 27) is yet to break into the England first team, and doesn’t seem likely to be able to do so in the near future with such an abundance of young midfield talent currently occupying the Three Lions’ ranks. Hammers fans would argue that Noble has not been given the opportunity to prove himself at the most prestigious level. This writer would argue that if Noble was in his early 20’s in today’s English football then perhaps he would be given his chance, as is the way for the England national team at the moment; throwing the likes of Sterling, Wilshere and Shaw into the pool and giving them the opportunity to sink or swim at such a young and unproven age.
Despite this lack of international recognition, Noble’s work has not gone completely unnoticed by the rest of the world’s media. In 2014, he was in the top 10 players in the world based on percentage of penalties converted since 2009, a skill that seems to have gone slightly under the radar when looked upon by fans that do not model the claret and blue. The Hammers’ vice-captain is first choice penalty taker for the club and has scored in every Premier League season that he has been involved in since 2006/07. The only season that he missed out on a Premier League goal during this period is when West Ham dropped down to the Championship for the 2011/12 season. This being said; he seemed to enjoy his time in the second tier, doubling his highest Premier League season tally to date by scoring 8 league goals.
Should Noble not be given the opportunity to prove himself for England, he is eligible to play for Republic of Ireland due to his Grandparents’ heritage. In August 2014, Noble was recorded as saying that his main ambition is to one day represent England, but failed to rule out the possibility of playing for ROI. With Ireland doing so well in their European Championships qualifying group, this writer would not be surprised to see Noble open the door to wearing green.
West Ham came out close winners against Newcastle, securing a well-needed victory (albeit by one goal) against Pardew’s men. West Ham climb to 5th in the league, leap-frogging the Toon who fall to 8th after such an encouraging run.