|Full name||Nigel Shola Andre Reo-Coker|
|Date of birth||14 May 1984|
|Place of birth||Croydon, London, England|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Current club||Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
|2004–2007||West Ham United||120||(11)|
|2013–||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||32||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 29 October 2013.
† Appearances (Goals).
Nigel Shola Andre Reo-Coker (born 14 May 1984 in Croydon, South London) is an English footballer of Sierra Leonean descent who currently plays for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in Major League Soccer. He came through the youth team ranks at Wimbledon, and has previously played for West Ham United, Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town.
Reo-Coker was born in Thornton Heath, London. As a child, he spent six years in Sierra Leone where his father, Ransford, was a doctor. Nigel moved back to London with his mother Agnes-Lucinda and sisters Natalie and Vanessa and brother Glenn when his parents split up in 1990. As a child he attended Riddlesdown High School in Purley.
Reo-Coker was spotted by London club Wimbledon at the age of twelve after representing the borough of Croydon. He came through the ranks at Wimbledon and became captain after progressing to the first team. He also made his debut for the England Under-21s while at Wimbledon. In March 2003, Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp agreed a deal to bring Reo-Coker to the south coast club in preparation for their first Premiership season. Financial problems resulted in the player remaining at Wimbledon despite having already signed contracts with Portsmouth. Reo-Coker made 64 appearances for Wimbledon in all competitions, scoring six goals.
West Ham United
After an impressive first half of the 2003–04 season, he signed for West Ham in January 2004. After the move, Reo-Coker stated the reason he joined West Ham United, believing the club can bounce back to the Premier League. He made his West Ham debut on 31 January 2004 in a 2–1 home win against Rotherham United. His first West Ham goal came on 9 March 2004 against his former club, Wimbledon as he scored the fifth goal in a 5–0 win. He quickly became a regular member of Alan Pardew's first team and was made the club captain. In his first season West Ham made the 2004 Football League First Division play-off Final but lost 1–0 in Cardiff to Crystal Palace. In his second season he scored three times and played 39 games from a possible 46 games to help the club win promotion to The Premier League in 2004–05 through the play-offs and led the team to the FA Cup Final in May 2006.
The 2006–07 Premiership campaign began less successfully for West Ham, and Reo-Coker was singled out by some groups as being the main culprit for this slump, which left West Ham perilously close to the bottom three and ultimately led to the sacking of manager Alan Pardew. New manager Alan Curbishley identified Reo-Coker as being part of the team which had lost direction and was in danger of being relegated back to The Championship. Reo-Coker recovered his form in the latter part of the season and a run of seven wins in nine games, inspired by Carlos Tevez, saw West Ham escape relegation on the last day of the season with a 1–0 win at Manchester United, which turned out to be Reo-Coker's last game for West Ham. Reo-Coker intended to sort his future out in the summer before the 2007–08 season, saying in May 2007, "I do not know what my future is and need to sit down and talk with the manager and the chairman this week. I have been through the mill this season, but it has made me a stronger person and I would not have changed anything. I am a very loyal person but to play at my best I need to be happy. I made a promise to West Ham fans that I would help keep this club in the Premier League and I have done that." Reo-Coker requested a transfer at the end of the 2006–07 season after the board failed to reassure him concerning his future at West Ham. Aston Villa were reported to have made a £7m bid for Reo-Coker in June and in July 2007, West Ham and Aston Villa reached an agreement in the region of £8.5 million for the signing of Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker made 142 appearances in all competitions for West Ham scoring 11 goals. He was also booked 33 times.
Reo-Coker joined Aston Villa on 5 July 2007 for a reported £8.5 million, signing a four-year deal. At the press conference following the signing, he spoke of being "hung out to dry" by his former club, West Ham United, and said that his reason for joining Villa were, "their aspiration to play in Europe. They have a talented squad and Martin O'Neill has told me what he aims to do and I believe we can achieve it." Reo-Coker scored his first goal for Villa in a 5–0 League Cup 2nd round victory over Wrexham on 28 August 2007. On 21 January 2008, Reo-Coker captained Aston Villa in the absence of regular captain Gareth Barry against Liverpool at Anfield. He scored his first Premier League goal for Aston Villa in a 2–1 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. He then scored again later that week to equalise for Villa in the UEFA Cup against Litex Lovech. Villa went on to win this game 3–1. During his time at Villa, Reo-Coker has been known to operate as a right-back and right-winger occasionally when players who would usually play in those positions are unavailable.
Reo-Coker captained Aston Villa in the latter stages of the 2009 Peace Cup, following an injury to teammate Stiliyan Petrov. This was the case in the final, as Villa were triumphant and Reo-Coker consequently lifted the trophy. Reo-Coker would re-establish himself as a regular starter in the Villa team following the departure of Gareth Barry. However, on 18 September 2009, he was involved in a training ground bust up with manager Martin O'Neill and dropped for the following day's match with Portsmouth. A few week later, Reo-Coker was recalled by O'Neill, having being called ahead of a match.
Reo-Coker enjoyed a resurgence at the start of the 2010–11 season under new Villa manager Gérard Houllier and following news in October 2010 that captain Petrov would be out injured for two months, Houllier named Reo-Coker as captain until Petrov's return. On 27 May 2011, Aston Villa announced that Nigel Reo-Coker had left the club following his contract expiring. After being released, Reo-Coker would accused the club's chief over his release.
Reo-Coker joined Bolton Wanderers in July 2011 on a free transfer following his release from Villa, signing a two-year deal. Manager Owen Coyle described him as having the "...quality, drive and desire to compete at the highest level in the Premier League..." He made his debut in the 4–0 away win at Queens Park Rangers in the next month and scored his first goal for the club in Bolton's 2–1 away win against Blackburn Rovers in December 2011. He went on to make 42 league and cup appearances for Bolton, scoring three goals. Bolton struggled during the 2011-12 season and following relegation from the Premier League at the end of the season, Reo-Coker activated a release clause in his contract and left the club.
Reo-Coker joined Ipswich Town in October 2012, saying, "Ipswich are a sleeping giant in the Championship - a massive club with a great history. It's the right club at the right time for me and everything has fallen into place." He made twelve appearances before departing the club in January 2013 after turning down the offer of an extended contract until June 2013.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
On 20 February 2013, Reo-Coker accepted an offer from MLS club Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Reo-Coker's Discovery Rights had been held by the Whitecaps' local rivals Portland Timbers, but Reo-Coker expressed a desire to play for the Vancouver club instead having been impressed with the professionalism of Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie. Vancouver traded its second-round picks in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and 2015 MLS SuperDraft to Portland in exchange for the right to sign Reo-Coker.
Reo-Coker made his debut for the club in a 1-0 win over Toronto on 3 March 2013, where he made 38 passes in the 45 minutes played, misplacing just eight of the total 46 during the match. Reo-Coker soon became known for his tough-tackling following a match against San Jose Earthquakes, in which he flipped midfielder Sam Cronin with a tackle in front of the referee. Reo-Coker was given a warning for the tackle. On 27 April 2013, Reo-Coker was awarded Man of the Match for his performance.
Ahead of the 2014 season Reo-Coker changed his squad number from 13 to his favoured number 20 that he has worn at both West Ham and Aston Villa in England.
Reo-Coker was first selected for the England U-21 squad against Turkey in October 2003. On 24 March 2007, Reo-Coker led out England Under 21s against Italy Under 21s, becoming the first Englishman to captain a side at the new Wembley Stadium. The match finished 3–3.
In May 2006, Reo-Coker was named as the standby midfield player for England's 2006 World Cup squad. However, on 22 May the FA announced that Reo-Coker would be replaced by Phil Neville as Reo-Coker's back problems made him unable to compete in the World Cup.
He captained the England U21s throughout the 2007 UEFA Under-21 Championship. A second booking in the tournament received needlessly in the semi-final against the hosts, the Netherlands, meant he would have missed the final if England had progressed. Due to his age, it also meant that the match would be his final game for the team. The semi-final went to penalties and the Netherlands eventually won 13–12, with Reo-Coker's penalty being saved in the shootout.
Eligibility for Sierra Leone
In May 2010, Sierra Leone Football Association president Nahim Khadi announced that his interest in inviting Reo-Coker to join up with the Sierra Leone national football team for their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. Khadi said that the player's great "leadership and experience" would be a great asset to the team.
On 20 September 2010, it was revealed that Sierra Leone manager Christian Cole had decided to pencil Reo-Coker in to his squad for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against South Africa. However, Reo-Coker later rejected the chance to represent the nation, claiming that he wished to concentrate on his football at Aston Villa and maybe even return to the England set-up in the future.
West Ham United
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- Darcy Green (27 April 2013). "Whitecaps FC draw 2-2 versus FC Dallas | Vancouver Whitecaps FC". Whitecapsfc.com. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
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- "Sierra Leone hopeful on Reo-Coker". BBC News. 20 September 2010.
- "Reo-Coker spurns Sierra Leone". Sky Sports. 23 September 2010.
|West Ham United Captain