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Boleyn Boy: My Autobiography

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Coast to Coast Times: bi-weekly news magazine; issue #123: Matlovich Still Fighting & Anita Tyrant Opnes Season on Gays We need to be in the market of probably 25 teams across Europe. Maybe from fourth to eighth in the Spanish league, the same in the German league. Those are our rivals when we are recruiting players because we can’t afford to buy who we want. It’s not going to happen. So we’ve got to be clever and find ways of recruiting young players and developing them, bringing them from the academy to the first team because that’s a massive plus. We’ve seen that with Declan Rice [who succeeded Noble as club captain], Ben Johnson [the West Ham defender], myself and others. A good young English player is worth 40 million quid. It’s incredible. So if we can produce three or four of them, we’re doing something right.”

The Thrice Noble and Illustrious Princess, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle. Edited With a Preface and Occasional Notes By Mark Anthony LowerDavid Sullivan and David Gold, West Ham’s owners since January 2010, enjoy their reputation as local wheelers-and-dealers, but how does the prospect of half the Premier League being owned by countries make Noble feel? “Well, it depends,” he says, as he starts to laugh. “It depends if we are [owned by a nation]. The great thing about the Premier League is, because there is a lot of financial power, the games ain’t as easy as they would be in other leagues. But if you want the best players it’s different. The demands were draining and Noble admits there were times where “I had broken relationships with other family members”. It became difficult for him to enjoy even the good times. “You almost become immune to the good times. They just bring relief because points are so sacred in the Premier League that if you win it’s relief more than joy. Joy is when you’re 17 and you break into the first team and everyone thinks you’re a hero. But I became a senior pro at 21 and you’re expected to win, you’re expected to play well.” It is debatable whether West Ham can hold on to Rice much longer – especially when, at the World Cup, the England midfielder said how much he wants to play Champions League football and that “you only get one career”. Noble sounds pragmatic when discussing a player he has mentored for years and as the Premier League resumes on Boxing Day with West Ham, two places above the relegation zone, away to the leaders Arsenal.

Mark Noble waves to West Ham’s fans after his last home game as a player, against Manchester City in May. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The GuardianAs Mark Noble considers the enormous task he will face in his new role as West Ham’s sporting director, he shares his belief that, “in the next 10 to 15 years probably half of the Premier League’s teams will be owned by countries”. Noble played more than 500 games for West Ham, from 2004 to May this year, and the consistency and loyalty of that commitment stand in sharp contrast with the outlandish riches which will transform the Premier League much further. In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications. Mark joined the team aged just 15, making him the youngest player to appear in their reserve team. He was later awarded his first of many Young Hammer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards, the mark of a footballer with true potential. After scoring his first goal in 2007, Mark went on to score his first penalty, celebrate his 100th appearance in 2009, and regularly play in the Premier League.

I’ve had some lovely comments about the book and I hope all those who have bought it enjoy reading it.”The simple joy of football shines in Noble – as it will when he embraces the breaks from recruitment and monitoring mental health to step out on the academy pitch with teenage hopefuls to whom he can give a few pointers. All the headaches of being the Boleyn boy trying to keep up with clubs owned by countries will be forgotten for a while. And maybe, I suggest, the academy kids will look up to him as their local version of Messi.

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