Mark James Noble (born 8 May 1987) is an English footballer who plays as a central midfielder and is captain of West Ham United. He has played almost all his youth and first team football for West Ham apart from two short loan spells, at Hull City and Ipswich Town. He has played for England at U16, U17, U18, U19 and U21 levels. He captained the U21 side, scoring three goals in 20 appearances. Noble is the longest serving player in West Ham's current squad, having been in the first team since 2004. He is West Ham's first-choice taker for penalty kicks and has won the club's Hammer of the Year trophy twice.
In 2014, he was ranked in the top five penalty takers in the top European leagues and was in the top 10 in the world based on the percentage of penalties successfully converted since 2009. Noble has played more Premier League games for West Ham than any other player.
Born in Canning Town, East London, Noble played for Barking Colts and moved to Arsenal's academy at age 11. His father, however, who would drive him to training, could not always arrange the time to get Noble to training sessions due to the distance from their home in Beckton. Local side West Ham United showed an interest and Noble signed as a youth player. He became the youngest player ever to appear in their reserve team, aged 15. He became a trainee in July 2003 and made his debut in the senior team at the age of just 17 in the League Cup in August 2004 in a 2–0 win against Southend United. He made his league debut in the Championship in January 2005, in a 4–2 defeat away at Wolverhampton Wanderers. On 30 May 2005, Noble played in the 2005 Football League Championship play-off Final which saw West Ham beat Preston North End 1–0 to secure a return to the Premier League. He had entered the game as an 82nd-minute substitute for Shaun Newton.
|“||We think very highly of Mark. If he keeps on working hard and continues to develop as he has, there is no reason why he can't become a top player for this club.||”|
|— Alan Pardew, 2005|
Upon West Ham's return to the Premier League, he featured in only five League games in the 2006–06 season, including those against Tottenham Hotspur on 20 November 2005 and against Manchester United on 27 November, but after a game against Blackburn Rovers on 10 December, he found regular playing time harder to come by and was sent out on loan. He did not play for West Ham at all in 2006.
Noble was subsequently loaned to Hull City where he made five appearances. His Hull debut came on 18 February 2006 in a 1–0 away defeat by Cardiff City. Noble's loan ended early after he suffered an injury to his lower back.
Noble signed a three-month loan with Ipswich Town in August 2006 in the hope of gaining necessary first-team experience. He played 13 games in the Championship and scored his first professional goal on 12 September in a 2–1 home win over Coventry City.
Return to West Ham
Noble scored his first goal for West Ham against Brighton & Hove Albion, the side's first of three in a 3–0 home win in January 2007 in the third round of the FA Cup, from an assist by Carlos Tevez. On 4 March, he scored his first Premiership goal and the opening goal of the game, against Tottenham at Upton Park in a game West Ham eventually lost 4–3 in the final seconds. He played 11 games in all competitions, scoring three goals in the 2006–07 season.
Noble established his place in Alan Curbishley's side during the 2007–08 season, starting nearly all games when fit. He scored his first penalty for the club on 18 August 2007 in a 1–0 away win against Birmingham City after Colin Doyle had fouled Craig Bellamy. He was out for several weeks in November 2007 after he had played through an injury for the last several months without letting the medical staff know. In January 2008, Noble scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Liverpool from the penalty spot, after Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher had brought down Fredrik Ljungberg in the last few seconds of second-half added time. His performance in the match was described as "exceptional".
The 2008–09 season did not start well for Noble, as he was sent off for two bookable offences in a 3–0 loss away at Manchester City, the first away game of the season. After serving his suspension he came back to score an equaliser against West Bromwich Albion after West Ham went a goal down with West Brom coming back to win 3–2. This was one of five goals he scored in the season with three coming from the penalty spot. After Alan Curbishley left in September, he remained in the first team under new manager Gianfranco Zola. He celebrated his 100th appearance for the Hammers by scoring against Blackburn at Ewood Park on 21 March 2009 to secure a 1–1 draw. In April, he signed a contract extension tying him to the club until 2013.
Noble began the 2009–10 season well, scoring West Ham's first goal of the new season, in a 2–0 win over Premier League newcomers Wolves. Under Gianfranco Zola, Noble established himself in central midfield in a diamond that included Scott Parker as his partner and Jack Collison and Valon Behrami on the wings. He would only score one other goal during the season – a penalty after Habib Beye had fouled Zavon Hines – in a 2–1 home win against Aston Villa on 4 November 2009.
With West Ham now managed by Avram Grant, Noble continued to be a regular member of the first team. He played 26 of a possible 38 games in the Premier League missing a month of the season after an appendectomy as West Ham were relegated after finishing in 20th and bottom place. He scored four league goals, all were penalties including two in one game. On 2 April 2011 against Manchester United his two penalties had put West Ham 2–0 up only for Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick which, with another goal by Javier Hernández, won the game 4–2 for Manchester United.
During the 2011–12 season with West Ham now back in the Championship, Noble scored eight goals, seven of which were penalties, his only goal from open play coming in a 4–0 away win against Barnsley. Having twice previously been runner-up, Noble was named Hammer of the Year for the 2011–12 season. In May 2012 Noble played in the 2012 Football League Championship play-off Final at Wembley Stadium against Blackpool which West Ham won 2–1 to return to the Premier League after a one-year absence. By the end of the season, he had played 49 games in all competitions, missing just one of their Championship games.
In September 2012, Noble signed a new three-year contract with an option for a further two years. In February 2013, he was out injured after having been diagnosed with a compression of the thoracic outlet. He did not return until 17 April 2013 in a 2–2 home draw against Manchester United. The missing games saw Noble's tally for the season at 31 games in all competitions with four goals scored. Three goals were penalties with his one-goal from open play coming in a 4–1 home win against Southampton on 20 October 2012.
Noble scored three goals in the 2013–14 season, the only one from open play being the second goal in a 2–0 away win over Cardiff City in January, despite the team being down to ten men after a James Tomkins sending off. On 6 May 2014, Noble received his second Hammer of the Year, beating runner up Adrián and third-placed James Tomkins. On the same awards night, Noble also won the Players' Player of the Year accolade.
Noble missed a penalty in a 0–1 home defeat by Tottenham on 16 August 2014, the opening game of the season, but scored his first goal of the season in the next home game, on 30 August, a 1–3 home defeat by Southampton. On 29 November 2014, Noble became West Ham's record appearance maker in the Premier League with his appearance against Newcastle United being his 205th Premier League game, overtaking Steve Potts. Noble signed a contract extension which would keep him at West Ham until 2020, with an option for a further year, on 26 February 2015.
2015–16 season and testimonial
Noble's first goal of the season came from the penalty spot in a 3–4 home defeat by Premier League newcomers, AFC Bournemouth on 22 August 2015. The following week, he scored the second goal in a 3–0 away win against Liverpool; this was West Ham's first win at Anfield since 1963. Noble made his 350th senior appearance for West Ham on 6 February 2016, in a 1–0 defeat away at Southampton. The following week, he scored his third goal of the season, netting West Ham's equalizer in the 77th-minute of their 2–2 draw away at Norwich City. On 22 December 2015, it had been announced that Noble was to be granted a testimonial by West Ham following his long service to the club. The game was played on 28 March 2016 between a West Ham XI and a West Ham United all-stars team made up of former players, with all proceeds going to charity. The game was won 6–5 by the West Ham XI in front of 36,000 spectators and featured a goal by Paolo Di Canio and two by Dean Ashton, including a bicycle kick described as "stunning".
In March 2017 sections of West Ham supporters called for him to be dropped from the team. Noble described the season as "the most difficult of his career". On 8 April 2017, having played against Swansea City, Noble marked his 400th appearance for West Ham becoming the 19th player to pass this number. He played 35 games in all competitions for West Ham in the 2016-17 season scoring five goals, two in the Europa League and three in the Premier League. His season finished early with two games remaining for West Ham as he required an abdominal operation.
Noble captained the England U18 team. He was a member of the England U19 team that beat Serbia and Montenegro U19s 3–1 in the 2005 European Championship semi-finals, although they subsequently lost the final to France.
Noble made his debut for the England U-21 team on 11 June 2007, coming on as substitute in the 82nd-minute for Tom Huddlestone in England's 0–0 draw with the Czech Republic during the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship, held in the Netherlands. He established himself in the starting XI for the remaining matches and scored twice in a dramatic semi-final penalty shootout against the Netherlands where England lost 13–12. On 11 September 2007, Noble scored his first international goal for the under-21 team against Bulgaria in a 2–0 victory, followed by two more against the Republic of Ireland on 16 October.
Noble captained the U21s at the 2009 European Championships as regular captain Steven Taylor had to withdraw due to injury. The Young Lions ended the tournament as runners-up, losing 4–0 to Germany, with Noble playing his last match for the U21s.
Noble is also eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland national side through his Cork-born grandparents. In August 2014, despite stating on numerous occasions about his ambition of playing for England at senior level, it has been reported that he has made himself available for the Irish national team.
- As of match played 19 November 2017
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|West Ham United||2004–05||Championship||13||0||3||0||2||0||3||0||21||0|
|Hull City (loan)||2005–06||Championship||5||0||0||0||0||0||—||5||0|
|Ipswich Town (loan)||2006–07||13||1||0||0||0||0||—||13||1|
- West Ham United