By Hughie Southon

David Gold was laid to rest yesterday in a memorial which many described as “very special indeed.”

And  Hammers who knew him well were among those paying personal tributes to a man who had been co chairman of the club for 13 years.

Fellow East Londoner Noble began by remembering David Gold as a man who, like him, truly loved West Ham.

He said: “I was thinking about it the other day and his journey is kind of similar to mine Growing up in East London and supporting West Ham United, I was very lucky enough to do that and play for the club. Obviously, he went that one better and owned the football club!

“And that’s just incredible: how a man from nothing did as well as he did, and to stay true to himself. He was a real good man, and I had a lot of time for him. He came and spent time with the players at the training ground and had lunch with us too.

“And while he loved his football, he spoke about everything else. And as a footballer, that’s so refreshing. As all you do is normally do, wherever you go, is you talk about football. And when the owner of a football club comes in, and you sit there with him, and he chats about many other things. It’s really nice. And I think just his kindness and his manners were great. I’ll miss that.

“It’s a large part of my career that we’ve spent together and obviously had some massive ups and downs. And he’s been there the whole way. There were those afternoons at the training ground where he’d come in and we would sit and have lunch together. Not in a way that he was probing to know about the dressing room, he just wanted to talk about his love for the game and his love for West Ham.”

Mark Noble gives his David Gold eulogy

Nolan agreed that David Gold’s humility, in spite of everything he had achieved, set him apart, and that he deserved to see his beloved Hammers thriving in the final seasons of his long and successful life.

“You wouldn’t believe he owned a football club as he was just giving his time to everybody,” said the former midfielder and current assistant coach.

“He wanted to talk about football, yes, but not just that; he was really invested in you as a person too. He was such a genuine, caring man, and I am just delighted that we have given him some really good years too.

“It was what he deserved to see his boyhood team, being in Europe, fighting against the heavyweights and going toe-to-toe in the Premier League as well. I’m just so pleased that I was able to get to know him on a personal level and spend that time with him during that part of my career.”

Backroom staff at David Gold's funeral

Cole admitted to being left in awe of David Gold’s rise from abject poverty to owning the Club he grew up just a few metres away from in Upton Park, and also pointed to humility as being one of his standout traits.

“I actually didn’t know [he grew up on Green Street] until obviously, it got revealed in the same season he took over, that he is a local lad,” he explained. “And let’s be real, his story is crazy!

“How can you be born on that same road, and then own the football club that you can see from your bedroom window? It’s unbelievable. And also, an inspiration to anybody that is not from a wealthy background, that you can build to get what you want out of life, and he’s certainly done that.

“But most of all, he has stayed so humble. He is just a really, really warm person. I remember when he first came to the training ground and shook everybody’s hands. And you just had a warm feeling about him. He was definitely someone I took a shine to, I felt just a warmth from him. He was just such a kind-hearted person. He’s a great mentor to me and a great inspiration to everybody at the Club.”

Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble with David Gold at Wembley

It was Saturday 19 May 2012 that the players and the man who dreamed of playing in Claret and Blue as a teenager enjoyed an unforgettable afternoon at the Home of Football.

West Ham had been relegated a year before, but in large part through the leadership of Nolan, the goals of Cole and energy of Noble, had bounced back to challenge for promotion.

That challenge climaxed at Wembley, where Sam Allardyce’s Irons edged out Blackpool 2-1 to take the Club back to where it belongs – the Premier League.

Afterwards, David Gold joined the trio, the manager, staff and other players on the pitch to celebrate a momentous victory that laid the foundations for the Club’s recent successes and the move, in 2016, to London Stadium.

“I just remember his smile and his warmth to be honest; it was clear from day one,” Nolan recalled. “As soon as I arrived at the Club, the passion and love he had for West Ham United were obvious to everyone.


David Gold in his helicopter

For Noble, that game came in the same week he was married, and in the relatively early stages of a West Ham career that spanned 18 years and 550 appearances.

“The one thing I do remember is the Play-Off final, he came on a pitch and me and Kevin Nolan messed his hair up!” he smiled. “And at that moment, when I looked at him, he was a West Ham fan. He wasn’t the owner of the football club. He was a West Ham fan because you could see it in his eyes. And the pure joy and adulation of obviously getting promoted, I think overwhelmed him a little bit.”