Blasts of the Mohican gives West Ham promotion hope

West Ham striker Ricardo Vaz Te hit a stunning hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Brighton to make it 10 goals since his arrival in January

The January transfer window is always a tough time to find a bargain signing, but the arrival of Ricardo Vaz Te for just �500,000 from Barnsley, may prove to be one of the shrewdest moves of the season.

It didn’t always look that way. Not long after the Portuguese striker’s arrival, West Ham stood four points clear at the top of the Championship, but despite all his goals and some sparkling play both on the wing and up front, the Hammers chances of automatic promotion are slim at best.

But there can be no blame attached to Vaz Te. His record since arriving is a match for any player to pull on a claret and blue shirt.

He has scored 10 goals in 12 appearances for West Ham, 22 in all this season if you include his Barnsley goals, and he has now scored in five consecutive appearances for the club.

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It is an enviable record, but for manager Sam Allardyce the fruition of a gamble he took on a player he has known since he was just a boy.

“I had him at 16 at Bolton, so I always knew the talent was there, but often you see young players drifting out of the game, abusing their talent,” said the boss after watching Vaz Te’s hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of Brighton.

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“The only way he has become the talent he is, is because he has been down and out. He has been left to ponder his career and whether he wanted to be one of those talent wasters.

“He went out of Bolton and I think he ended up in Greece for a year, he was in Scotland for a year and then he ended up at Barnsley.

“Once I had a look at him and found out that he had only six months left on his contract, I said to David Sullivan, we have got to get this lad, he could be great, and he has been.”

Vaz Te took just two minutes to get on the scoresheet on Saturday with a thumping 25-yard shot and added another before the break when he showed his aerial power by nodding home Gary O’Neil’s cross from the far post.

Then to round things off, he scored an overhead kick to complete his hat-trick, before going off to standing ovation with 13 minutes still to go.

“He was scintillating today and outstanding in the other games before that,” said Allardyce.

“His hat-trick today had three great goals. The first one was a blistering thunderbolt that dipped and swerved and move. You can look at the keeper, but I don’t think he has got any chance.

“The header on the far post was over a defender and showed his bravery and then the overhead kick was the icing on the cake.

“It was the best piece of technique you will see in both the leagues. They are still raving about the goal that Wayne Rooney scored against Liverpool, but this was as good as that one.”

Praise indeed from his manager, but the modest 25-year-old was keen to play down such an amazing performance.

“Maybe from the fans’ point of view it was my best performance, but it was important that we got a win at home,” he said simply.

It seems that the striker is playing with a smile on his face.

“I am more than happy and I have been happy since day one,” he said.

“I always thought it was the right decision to come here, so I have nothing to complain about. Everybody has been really great to me – the fans and the support that I get from them. It was easy for me to settle quickly and that’s important.”

Vaz Te is already looking like a household name at West Ham and if he helps them back into the Premier League at the first time of asking, he will quickly become a Hammers hero.

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