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I led West Ham’s last Euro success, the trophy was tiny but we did meet models



THOUSANDS of West Ham fans are heading to Prague in the misguided belief that tomorrow’s Europa Conference League final is the club’s first of its kind for 47 years.

Yet former Hammers skipper Steve Lomas hoisted aloft the ‘coveted’ Intertoto Cup in 1999 on a journey that proved memorable for the players involved.

This was the trophy for winning the competition
West Ham players Paolo Di Canio (L) and Marc Keller were among the winning squad
As well as a young Frank Lampard

The now-defunct competition is the trophy time forgot as far as supporters and the wider world are concerned.

But for Northern Irishman Lomas the ‘Intertwobob’, as it had been dubbed, was memorable for reasons that still make him chuckle today.

Not least was how winning it for West Ham landed the squad in a dream position of sharing a hotel with dozens of glamorous Playboy models.


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The Hammers stars were ordered back from summer holidays painfully early to prepare for a mid-July two-legged tie against tiny Finnish outfit FC Jokerit and it went from there.

By the end of August, they had played six games in all, knocking out Dutch side Heerenveen before beating French outfit Metz 3-2 on aggregate in the final on August 24.

The 1999 Intertoto Cup was hardly a rare prize — there were three winners after all. West Ham, Juventus and Montpellier.

And midfielder Lomas, now 49, said: “I was captain that night.


“I went up to get the trophy from one of the dignitaries and he handed me this little sort of egg cup.

“I thought we would all get one and then hang around for the trophy. But that was the f****** trophy.


“One of the other lads kicked me and said, ‘Is this what we came back two weeks early for?’. He booted it across the dressing room later.

“If you look in West Ham’s trophy cabinet and see a tiny cup there with a little dent in it, you’ll know why. The club didn’t even buy us a medal.

“It was a weird tournament but it was a chance to avoid the monotony of pre-season training. Thank God we were getting away.

“We didn’t have to do pre-season running around bloody Hainault Forest for once. I don’t really mind that people don’t even think about it as a European trophy.

“We played in Holland as well and then beat a very good Metz side featuring a young Louis Saha.

“It was a brilliant experience. We saw great places and started the season well because we were match fit. It served its purpose.

“I think we were third or fourth at the start of that season as a result. Once we got into it, we loved it.”


Entering the Intertoto Cup, on application not merit, was a smart move by boss Harry Redknapp to get his players through pre-season training by playing football instead of mind-numbing drills.

The ‘triumph’ also put West Ham in the Uefa Cup, now the Europa League, for the first time. The fun was just starting.

After beating Croatians Osiejek in the first round they were drawn against tough Romanians Steaua Bucharest.

Lomas said: “When we got there Harry was taken aback by the place. Our hotel was bang in the centre of town and there was a Playboy Bunny convention going on. You couldn’t make it up.

“We were meant to be flying home after the game and there was Neil Ruddock making us all laugh, on his knees clowning around and pleading with Harry to let us stay another night. He even offered to pay the entire hotel bill if we did.

“The girls were on a separate floor to us and it was all just mucking about but I remember Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand were young, single lads at the time and their eyes were on stalks.”

Lomas has previously recounted how their already bizarre adventure took an even stranger twist before kick-off in the Romanian capital.


He said: “The whole crowd stood up as the dignitaries walked onto the pitch.

“We thought it must have been the president of the country but this geezer was wearing a Stetson hat. It was Larry Hagman — it was f****** JR Ewing.

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“Apparently they were so far behind everyone else on Dallas that old Larry was still a superstar in Romania.

“That whole summer just kept giving in terms of camaraderie. You remember the stories more than the games. It was great.”

Source: The Sun

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