Ricardo Vaz Te is a player who’s etched into the history books of West Ham, but it’s easy to forget he even played at the club.
Signed by Sam Allardyce on deadline day in the January transfer window of 2012, the Portuguese attacker joined a Hammers side top of the Championship and looking set to gain automatic promotion to the Premier League just a season after the east London side were relegated dead last in the English top-flight.
A journeyman both in and out of England, West Ham was Vaz Te’s fifth British team after starting his career at Bolton under Big Sam, the versatile attacker had spells at Hull, Panionios in Greece, Hibernian and Barnsley before settling permanently in east London with Allardyce again.
It is his five months in the Championship with the Hammers that fans remember most and what places Vaz Te in the history books of the club. 10 goals in 15 games for West Ham wasn’t enough to secure the east London side an automatic promotion spot, but it set the club up nicely for the play-offs, and it is here where the Portuguese attacker showed his quality.
Their first Wembley Stadium appearance in over 30 years, West Ham head into £100 million game the heavy favourites, and after Carlton Cole put the Hammers up just before half-time, it looked like Allardyce’s side were on course for promotion to the Premier League.
Of course, nothing is ever easy with West Ham, and Tom Ince equalised for Blackpool shortly after the break, forcing the game into a dogged affair with both teams coming close with chances but unable to get that vital winning goal.
And then five minutes before full-time, Vaz Te struck. A spilt Matt Gilks save 12-yards out left the Portuguese attacker with a simple finish to send Wembley into madness, and to fire West Ham back into the Premier League.
Although his impact on the Hammers side sent them back to the English top-flight, Vaz Te wasn’t able to have as big as an effect in the Premier League as he did in the Championship.
The winger only managed three goals and four assists in 24 appearances for West Ham in their first season back in the Premier League, with injuries limiting him to just eight in the following campaign.
Out of favour with Allardyce and clearly not suited for the Premier League, Vaz Te’s time with West Ham came to an end in the winter transfer window of 2015, where the attacker was released by the club to join Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespo.
Another spell in England with Charlton in the 2015/16 season, where Vaz Te was released after only six months, and a return to Akhisar Belediyespo led the striker to where he is now, playing in China with Henan Jianye at age 32.
Vaz Te’s time at West Ham might have ended poorly, but there is no doubt that the club would not be where they are now without his goals and impact in 2012.
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