Monday, January 09, 2006
A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside a West Ham shirt
Who is this Tomas Repka guy anyway?
Ask ten West Ham fans what they think of the Czech defender, and you will get between fifteen and twenty different answers. Some will say he is the rock of the West Ham defence and others will say he is the weakest link. He can be both in the same match. One punter might rate him a 7 for a particular performance, and another give him a 4. Is it something in the way he plays?
Perhaps it depends on what you're looking at, or at what time you chose to go and get a beer. At times, he'll put in great tackles and he will cut out any channels of attack down his side, drawing on his wealth of experience. At other times, he'll do something bizarre like pass the ball to a striker in the defensive third, or hack someone down for no apparent reason. Depending on your mood, it comes down to what you choose to see, and remember, and what you don't.
However, one thing that can't be questioned is his dedication. Whether that's to football in general, or West Ham in particular, I'm not entirely sure. But it's there, and it's a good thing, until he gets carded for a foul just outside the box.
He was - notwithstanding the transfer window - West Ham's most expensive player. Debates still rage on whether he was worth the money. He has a reputation for being a hard man, somewhat justified of course but he has mellowed in recent years and his tendency to pick up yellow cards is probably as much due to his reputation (and appearance) than his hard tackling. He is the link between the past era and the new revolution. He is rarely injured.
He's also rarely interviewed, and his English is reputedly still quite poor, so we may never really understand this enigmatic footballer. Even now we don't know when he will finish up. We all thought last season was his finale, but here he is again, back in a West Ham shirt. Now they say he will go back to Sparta Prague in January, or maybe stay till the end of the season. It's impossible to know. But it would be a shame for the man we call Super Tom to leave the club without some sort of fans' farewell.