Gabbidon's feet firmly planted despite his rise

Not so Danny Gabbidon. While the rest of John Toshack's élite performers were re-tuning their frenzied beings to a decidedly low-key build-up to a couple of games that are qualifiers in name only, the pitch surrounding the young centre-half remained as feverish as ever. "Dan's The Man" screamed the Principality's national newspaper after he was voted Welsh Player of the Year, although the Western Mail might easily have bellowed "Dan's The Only Man" such was the Gabbidon landslide.

A poll of about 50 journalists proved so unequivocal in its favour of the boy from Cwmbran that the organisers confessed they had to add the names of John Hartson and Craig Bellamy, arbitrarily, just so the awards ceremony could boast a shortlist.

Still, they were aware their drum roll was to have all the tension of a ham roll, as the words of one Ryan Giggs signified even before the evening had begun. "Danny's been quite easily our best performer over the last few years," said the Wales captain, obviously disappointed to have Gabbidon suspended for yesterday's trip to Windsor Park. "He just gets better and better and impresses more and more."

West Ham fans would doubtless pop shoulders in the rush to second that and they only welcomed him into their own little kingdom two months ago after a £2.5m move from Cardiff City. In that short space of time, Gabbidon's emergence as a serious Premiership performer has neatly paralleled the club's and so numerous are the bubbles emanating from Upton Park at the moment you just know when he says, "we're playing really well, but not getting too carried away", he speaks only for himself.

In truth, though, it is likely Gabiddon would not get "too carried away" if West Ham won their first FA Cup since 1980 and Wales made their first major finals since 1958, all in the same week. The 26-year-old is so laid back spirit levels should be set by him. "Yeah, people have told me that," he laughed. "Mainly people at West Ham as it happens."

And when those "people" happen to be the manager and the most respected player the new kid tends to listen. "I've had to work hard on being too casual," he admitted. "The manager [Alan Pardew] said when he used to watch me at Cardiff I'd amble out of defence with the ball and lose possession a lot. He just said 'you won't be doing that here'. And if I ever did, Teddy [Sheringham] would let me know all about it. There have been plenty of games when he's run back the length of the field to shout at us lot in defence. You daren't ignore him as Teddy's the main man at West Ham. The women love him and so do some of the men. He's great to watch and to play with. Even when he's screaming at you."

Sheringham's "encouragement" has had the desired effect. West Ham have conceded just five goals in seven matches, a frugality that has assisted them up to the dreamy heights of eighth.

Gabbidon, however, is very much awake. "I still think I can do a lot better and am mindful how easily things could all go wrong," he said. "I mean, it's so bloody tough. One week you're playing Arsenal, then it's Liverpool, then Newcastle. Like, it never ends. Even when we beat Villa 4-0 it was still a difficult match for me, having to handle [Milan] Baros and all. That shows how difficult the Premiership is. It's been great so far, mind, and it helps we've won a few games already. I wouldn't want us to be looking over our shoulders wondering where the next point is coming from and then suddenly, 'Bam!' - Stamford Bridge this weekend, Old Trafford the next."

In fact, it is across Manchester where Gabbidon and West Ham will be next weekend, tackling Psycho's assortment of ravenous all-sorts, but before that comes Azerbaijan in Cardiff on Wednesday and Wales's last match of a miserable campaign. "We don't want to finish bottom of the group," he said. "That would be embarrassing. We're better than that and, believe it or not, there's still a good spirit in the camp. A lot of that is down to the new gaffer. He's more relaxed than Mark Hughes. You can still have an ice bath if you want one but now it's not compulsory. I don't bother."

That's probably a good thing. Gabbidon's so cool he'd only refreeze it.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Travel
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home