By George Overhill

18th Nov, 2022 | 4:10pm

Mark Noble unable to explain former West Ham United man's quality after seeing him in his pants

Yossi Benayoun was a surprise inclusion in former West Ham captain Mark Noble’s top five best Hammers players he’d played with.

The well-travelled former Israeli international made it in alongside current star and skipper Declan Rice, and former stand-outs Carlos Tevez, Dimitri Payet and Teddy Sheringham.

The soon-to-be Irons sporting director described the attacking midfielder, who spent two seasons at Upton Park following the club’s promotion back to the Premier League in 2005 and returned briefly on loan in 2012, as “special” on the ball, but could not explain how a player so skinny could be such a high-quality player at the top level.

Mr West Ham told the Happy Hour Podcast (17 November, 1min) of the last member of his top five: “I’m gonna say Yossi Benayoun. Magic.

“Honestly, he would have you in knots in training. And there was nothing of him, like if you see him in the dressing room with his pants on you’d think, ‘How does he play football?’.

“He was just so slim, but when you got the ball at his feet he was special.”

Talent

Football, like most team sports, is littered with stories of those who have been overlooked for being too short, or too light, or too slow to be successful but gone on to be stars.

Benayoun perhaps never quite made it to the absolute top bracket, and is probably more easily forgotten than the other four names Noble mentioned, but he clearly had plenty of ability.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all acquired his services after he left West Ham and he racked up over 100 caps for Israel in his career as well.

The now 42-year-old only retired three seasons ago, but played a key role in the West Ham side at a memorable time in the club’s recent history, including reaching the 2006 FA Cup final, and in the fairytale Tevez scoring run that kept the side in the Premier League a year later.

Overall he played 78 times for the club, scoring and assisting eight goals each, but was the sort of player whose ability was as much in the eye test as it was in his stats.

In many ways similar to current Real Madrid star Luka Modric in the way he played, it is no surprise that Noble enjoyed being in the same midfield, and is the kind of player that David Moyes could use currently to knit some of the expensive attacking arrivals together.