Martin: It was a privilege to represent West Ham
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Goalkeeper David Martin said it had been a 'privilege' to represent West Ham United for the past three seasons, following his release from the club.
Son of club legend Alvin, Martin signed in 2019 from Millwall, having played 289 games for MK Dons and a host of loan moves, as support for Lukasz Fabianski.
And he enjoyed a memorable debut in a 1-0 win at Chelsea, making four more appearances in the Premier League and keeping a clean sheet in another 1-0 win at Southampton.
He signed a one-year contract extension last summer and worked alongside Fabianski, Alphonse Areola and Darren Randolph as the Hammers reached the Europa League semi-finals and finished seventh in the Premier League.
And the 36-year-old admits he will have nothing but fond memories of time at his boyhood club.
"Obviously West Ham is a club I was born into," Martin told whufc.com.
"I was a bit worried when I first signed as while I was buzzing to be back, there was almost a little bit of apprehension thinking 'will it really live up to what I expect it to be'.
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"But it's done that and then some. To see what the club is actually like from the inside, it's massively overdone my expectations.
"It's been a privilege to be here for three years and what I've experience in those three years has just been unbelievable."
And following in the footsteps of his dad, who made 598 appearances for the club, Martin developed a close bond with supporters after that unforgettable debut that left him in tears.
"It's what dreams are made of. To have my family there with me, with my dad in the stands with the history he's had with the club, to achieve what I did that day was just unbelievable," he added.
"It will live with me for the rest of my life. That's how special these three years have been.
"To play in that first year was amazing. But the last two years when I haven't played, to see what the boys have achieved on the pitch and the club with the supporters, everyone's pulling in the right direction."
Although sad to be leaving the club at the end of June, Martin is excited for what the future might bring.
And he says he is a much better goalkeeper now, given his experiences from the past three years.
"I'm a hundred times better goalkeeper than when I arrived!" he said.
"At 36, I'm probably the strongest and fittest I've been in my whole career because I've been able to concentrate on that.
"My priority at the moment, [is] to start training ready for a new club and a new challenge. The next couple of years hopefully I can get a few games in that time and then look at a different path after that."
But Martin will always have one eye on the latest West Ham result and news.
"I'm going to be a West Ham fan til the day I die and I think my family will be well beyond that!" he added.
"I've got two girls and the women's team is definitely on their way to becoming a powerhouse so in another 10 years or so, Ruby and Skye will hopefully be kicking a ball for West Ham!"
Andriy Yarmolenko and Ryan Fredericks will also leave the club when their contracts expire on June 30.
Ukraine forward Yarmolenko scored 13 goals in 86 appearances, including a vital late winner against Chelsea in July 2020 and emotional finishes against Aston Villa and Sevilla in March this year.
Full-back Fredericks played 77 times, netting three goals, and helped keep the club in the top flight in 2020.
Development squad players Nathan Holland, Jayden Fevrier, Bernardo Rose, Amadou Diallo and Ossama Ashley will also leave, along with scholar Isaac Evans.