West Ham youth academy has a prestigious reputation for producing England internationals. Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, and Frank Lampard just to name a few of the players to make their mark on the international scene with England. The player we are looking at is a graduate of this famous academy and has already made his mark on the under 21 scene. He will be hoping to bide his time before he is given his chance to earn a full cap by England head coach Fabio Capello. We are of course speaking about Mark Noble.
Mark Noble was the youngest ever player to turn out for West Ham’s reserve team at the age of 15, following his relocation across London from the Arsenal academy at 12, and by 17 he had made his first team debut in the Carling Cup against Southend in 2004. He made 21 appearances in the successful promotion campaign in 04/05 culminating in a substitute appearance in the play off final win over Preston at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Following a successful loan spell at Hull City during the 06/07 season which provided him with much needed first team experience he managed to force himself into the West Ham first team squad in November 2006 where he played in an FA Cup tie against Brighton and Hove Albion, capping a fine display with a goal in the 3–0 win. It was the end of that season however which really endeared him to all Iron’s faithful playing a hugely influential role in returning to the side as the Hammers won seven of their last nine Premier League fixtures to avoid relegation. He has since gone on to play an integral role in an increasingly successful West Ham side, indeed captaining them on many occasions.
A combative central midfielder, Noble is always strong in the challenge and has a fantastic engine enabling him to play an old fashioned box to box central midfield role. This is not the limit of his game he shows much prowess from dead balls and a cool head, often being the hammers first choice penalty taker. Although still a relatively young player, Noble is always one of a few the West Ham players and fans alike look to when things are not perhaps as they should be. His record of 53 Premiership appearances over the last two seasons clearly highlights the key role that he plays within Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham side. Alongside Scott Parker the two of them provide the engine room which keeps the West Ham motor running. It is a formidable partnership which holds its own amongst the Premiership elite providing the ideal balance between breaking up the play of the opposition and creating much of the initial build up for their own side. A great passer of the ball Noble is the lynchpin of the midfield which enables Parker to burst forward into the opposition box giving the side an enviable balance in the middle of the park.
He has already excelled at the Under 21 level of International Football being a central part of Stuart Pearce’s squad for the 2007 Championships in the Netherlands again demonstrating that cool head scoring twice in the 13-11 semi final penalties loss to the Netherlands. Later that year he helped himself to a brace against the Republic of Ireland in Cork to assist in England’s qualification for the 2009 UEFA U21 Championships in Sweden. He again played a key part as captain of Pearce’s team that reached the final of the Championships, losing to Germany.
Noble’s ability and temperament have never been in question and he must be hoping that Fabio Capello will call on him for full International duty at some point during the 09/10 season. He will be willing to do anything to get himself near the England squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup something which Noble has stated on more than one occasion he believes is not beyond him. It is England’s abundance of talent in the centre of the park which may count against him for this coming World Cup. He will be in direct competition for the central midfield berth with more experienced international names such as Gerrard, Lampard, Hargreaves, Barry, Carrick and Jenas. It must be said that if all the aforementioned players are fit then securing a place in Capello’s squad for South Africa may be a little beyond Mark Noble. He is however a future England Star and looking at the ages of all the central midfielders in and around the England squad he must be thinking that his time will come following the 2010 World Cup.
At the age of 21 there is a lot of football to be played by Mark Noble and being one of a number of English players right down the spine of the West Ham team under the guidance of the supremely talented Italian manager Gianfranco Zola the future really is looking bright for this very grounded lad from the east end of London. He is already captain of the Under 21’s and often of West Ham and it is his nature on and off the pitch which provides the ideal balance of hard work, aggression and humility that is required to shoulder the responsibility of captaincy. Fabio Capello is firmly aware of Noble’s qualities and it must only be a matter of time before he earns that all important first call up. The Italian tactician may want to take a much closer look at what could be the future of the England team’s engine room.