Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nigel's Sorrow at Highbury Finale

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nigel's Sorrow at Highbury Finale

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

ALL good things come to an end, even if you're a model professional such as Nigel Winterburn.

Tomorrow, Winterburn will trot out at Highbury knowing the chances are, it will be the last time he competes in earnest on the pitch that was his home for 13 years.

The Arsenal fans will take a brief time out from discussing the prospects of their first Premiership title in four years, to give their former fullback the sort of reception he deserves.

That done, Winterburn, as befits a man who has graced the professional game for two decades, will do his best to unhinge those Championship hopes and, in the process, stretch West Ham's unbeaten run to five games.

You never can tell in football, as the Football Association have discovered over the last few days, but the strong probability is that tomorrow night will be Winterburn's Highbury grand finale as a player.

The 38-year-old's contract expires in June and the indications are that, much to his frustration, he will not be offered another one.

Winterburn, though, like Stuart Pearce before him, feels the old legs and lungs will hold out for another season and wants to play on, probably now, down in the Nationwide League's First Division.

"I'd rather stay at West Ham," he said. "But the decision seems to have been made and I would think it is going to be difficult to change it.

"I'm not sure of the exact reasons but it's very frustrating because I'm still playing.

"If I hadn't been in the side for four months I don't think I would have been disappointed, but when I feel as well as I do, I must admit there is a frustration on my part."

Winterburn hasn't always felt so positive this season.

Back in September, following West Ham's 5-0 defeat at Everton, he was seriously considering immediate retirement.

"I thought that, if I had another couple of games like that, I would rip up the contract," he said.

"In the end and after talking to Glenn Roeder, I modified my training programme and carried on. …

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