West Ham Re-United: A remarkable reunion

AS WELL as cementing his status as a footballing multi-millionaire, Kieron Dyer's likely move to West Ham will bring about a remarkable reunion with two former team-mates.

By Elvin King

AS WELL as cementing his status as a footballing multi-millionaire, Kieron Dyer's likely move to West Ham will bring about a remarkable reunion with two former team-mates.

Nearly 20 years ago, local Ipswich youth league side Whitton Sports boasted three notable starlets: Dyer, Richard Wright, and Matthew Upson, who were all to find fame and fortune as Premiership stars and England internationals. Now, two decades later, the three are reunited at Upton Park.

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley will be hoping that the Suffolk-born trio enjoy better luck than in recent seasons. Dyer has been plagued with injuries during his eight years on Tyneside, Wright has hardly played first-team football for Everton, and Upson cruelly suffered an injury on his West Ham debut.

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For Dyer, it will represent a fresh start, and the opportunity to be closer to his long-term partner and their two children in Ipswich.

The £80,000 a week he will reputedly earn enables him to continue the millionaire lifestyle he has enjoyed during his time at Newcastle: flash homes on Tyneside and in Spain, fast cars, and snappy dressing have become part of Dyer's image.

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It's all a long way from his early days living in a terrace house in Dillwyn Street, just off Handford Road, in Ipswich. Kieron went to school just around the corner, at St Matthew's Primary, and showed sporting talent from day one.

Paul King, Dyer's best friend at primary school, recalls: “Our PE teacher Peter Robinson dropped Kieron from the school side for one game for disciplinary reasons. We didn't have a sports field, so we played our home games at Handford Hall School. I can remember Kieron peering round the corner and watching the match from the road.''

King, now a PE teacher and member of Suffolk's county cricket squad, said: “Kieron was a natural at all sports and was no slouch at cricket.

“I lived in Victoria Street, and this was like a second home for Kieron. We used to play on our bikes around the London Road area, and we were also always kicking a ball about.''

Dyer was a member of the 4th Ipswich Boys' Brigade side which took the Boys' Brigade League by storm.

Paul King recalled: “Kieron was always scoring goals, and I remember one when he went round virtually the whole opposing team - keeper and all - and bent down on his knees to head the ball over the line.''

From the Boys' Brigade, it was on to five-a-side football in the 257 Junior Blues league, where Dyer played in the same team as Sergei Baltacha junior, and then to team up with Upson and Wright in what must be the most star-studded youth football team ever.

By the time he was 17, a diminutive Dyer was turning out for George Burley's Ipswich Town side which battled year after year to regain its place in the Premiership. The sight of Dyer sobbing inconsolably after the Blues failed to gain automatic promotion ensured his place in the hearts of Town fans.

Inevitably, he moved on to bigger things. While Dyer's time at Newcastle has been blighted by injury, and some negative tabloid headlines, it's fair to say he has not forgotten his beginnings.

In recent years, he has bought his mother a comfortable new home, and he has also ploughed money into Ridgeons League club Whitton United, and is planning to run soccer schools at the club's King George V ground. Ipswich fans will wish him well at Upton Park.

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