West Brom Legend Wants Ideye As Number Nine


West Bromwich Albion legend Garry Thompson believes Brown Ideye should be as the centre forward on Astle Day, Birmingham Mail reports.

Behind the scenes, Ideye has been immersing himself in the history books more than most, asking to see clips of Jeff Astle’s 1968 FA Cup winning goal against Everton.

When Albion take on Leicester in their iconic white shirt and shorts and red socks, three forwards will hope to grab the nine.

Saido Berahino has a loud shout for his 18 goals this season, Victor Anichebe might be a rank outsider but should at least come off the bench.

Then there is ‘Bobby’ Brown who has already worn nine 21 more times than Thompson ever did in his three seasons in the mid-1980s.

In terms of great hulking centre forwards few have made such an impression at The Hawthorns over the last 30 years.

“I’m like a fine wine,” chuckles Thompson. “The Albion fans have come to love me more as the years have passed.”

And yet when it comes down to numbers, Thompson says only one shirt counts when you’re a centre-forward.

Thompson made his debut at home to Arsenal in February 1983 wearing the number nine shirt against Arsenal at home and he wore it again against Luton the following week – both goalless draws as it happens.

Then Cyrille Regis returned from injury and Thompson switched to eight.

“The number nine shirt was massive. It was the ‘daddy’ of them all. You had to be nine. It meant such a big thing at the time. But the manager (Gordon Milne) gave it to Hateley and I did a bit of a sulk, if I’m honest.

“So I went to number ten and then I realised that Pele had been number ten for Brazil, so that wasn’t such a bad thing. Then I was moved to eight and then when I moved to Albion I was handed the number nine shirt.

“Then Cyrille was back in the team so they just threw me the eight. But I took to that straight away as we beat Ipswich Town 4-1 and I scored two.

Thompson says Ideye, who has worn his squad number nine all season, should be handed the number on Astle Day, even though it comes with huge responsibility.

“It’s a tough shirt to wear on the day, for sure. But Saido is never going to be a number nine in the traditional sense. He’s always going to be better playing off a front man.

“The fans that turn up on Saturday want a big man in the middle to carry that shirt. Jeff Astle was that big man, although he wasn’t just a lamp post to be fair.

“When you think of Albion and number nines you think of Astle and Derek Kevan – two legends and two huge specimens.

“Ally Brown was a bit like that. He got more out of Cyrille than I, or anybody, did probably because he was more mobile, very intelligent and very under-rated.”

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