Club legends who became directors including Mark Noble and Edwin van der Sar

West Ham United legend Mark Noble is set to embark on his first challenge since hanging up his boots at the end of last season, taking on a role as sporting director at the London Stadium.

Regarded as one of the greatest players to have never played for England, the ex-Hammers captain will return to his boyhood club in a new capacity after the turn of the year. Noble, 35, will officially start his post on January 2 following 550 appearances for the east London outfit between 2004 and 2022.

A West Ham statement declares that Noble will "work closely in support of manager David Moyes, as well as working with the Board of Directors, providing input, advice, and assistance across all aspects of the football operation."

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But Noble isn't the first to have gone upstairs after enjoying a stellar playing career, Daily Star Sport brings you five others who have made the transition from club legend to the boardroom.

Txiki Begiristain

Making over 300 appearances for Barcelona, Txiki Begiristain claimed four La Liga titles, the Copa Del Rey and the prestigious European Cup during a seven-year stint at the Camp Nou.

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Part of the 'Dream Team' La Blaugrana side, the Spaniard was flogged by legendary manager Johan Cruyff after losing his influence in the first-team and saw out the final four years of his playing career at Deportivo La Coruna and Japanese first division outfit Urawa Red Diamonds.

The flying forward was then installed as director of football at Barcelona in 2003, following a brief spell as a commentator for Televisio de Catalunya.

Overseeing Frank Rijkaard's reign as well as the first two years of Pep Guardiola's, Begiristain stepped down from his role at the end of the 2009/10 season, citing Joan Laporta's removal as the right time for him to also leave Catalunya.

Appointed in the same capacity at Manchester City in 2012, the 58-year-old has helped oversee a dramatic rise at the Etihad. The Cityzens have claimed six Premier League titles since his arrival.

Edwin van der Sar

Signed by Louis van Gaal as a teenager, Van der Sar claimed four Eredivisie crowns, and spectacularly one league goal, as the starting shot-stopper for Dutch giants Ajax.

Also aiding the club to their latest Champions League triumph in 1995, the Netherlands international racked up 312 appearances before transferring to Juventus for £5million.

Not wanting to play second choice to Gianluigi Buffon following his £32.6million record arrival in 2001, Van der Sar opted to join newly-promoted Premier League side Fulham, where his stellar performances earned him a move to Manchester United in 2006.

Also bagging four top-flight titles and another Champions League trophy in England, Van der Sar retired from professional football in 2011. Now chief executive at Ajax, a role he has held since 2016, the 51-year-old has recently penned a new deal to stay on as CEO until the end of the 2024/25 season.

Oliver Kahn

Oliver Kahn is one of Germany's most decorated footballers, bagging eight Bundesliga titles over a 14-year spell in Bavaria.

Also winning the European Championships in 1996, the 6ft 2in goalkeeper is regarded as one of the best of all time and is the only shot-stopper to have won the Golden Ball.

Retiring from the professional game in 2008, Kahn's last outing came during Bayern Munich's Asian Tour at the Salt Lake Stadium where he played in front of 120,000 spectators. The German received a standing ovation when substituted in the 55th minute.

Installed as Die Roten's CEO in July 2021, Kahn joined the board in January 2020 before eventually succeeding Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Paolo Maldini

An instantly recognisable legend of the game, Paolo Maldini made close to 1,000 appearances for boyhood club AC Milan, winning seven Serie A titles, five European Cups and the European Super Cup also on five occasions.

Captain of the Rossoneri and the Italian national side, Maldini was named third in the Ballon d'Or rankings in 1994 and 2003 before hanging up his boots at the end of the 2008/09 season.

Trying his hand at tennis upon retirement from football, the Italian icon qualified for the Aspria Tennis Cup in Milan, a professional tournament on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Admitting defeat after a 6-1, 6-1 trouncing, Maldini returned to AC Milan as sporting strategy and development director in 2018. A year later, he was promoted to technical director and, after claiming a first Scudetto in 11 seasons, their former captain penned a new two-year deal this summer.


The San Fernando-born goalkeeper graduated from Sevilla's famous youth system in 1988, making his debut for the reserve side in the Segunda Division B.

Promoted to the main squad the following season, Monchi went on to make 85 outings for the southern side, spending the majority of his time as secondary choice to Juan Carlos Unzue. Retiring in 1999, aged just 30, he was installed as the club's sporting director a year later.

During his 17-year tenure, Monchi helped develop academy stars Diego Capel, Alberto Moreno, Jesus Navas, Sergio Ramos and Jose Antonio Reyes, whilst also creating a network of over 700 scouts around the world.

This vast network helped uncover the likes of Dani Alves, Adriano, Federico Fazio, Ivan Rakitic and Julio Baptista, who earned the club over £175m from their high-profile departures. Leaving in 2017 to take on the Sporting Director's job at AS Roma, Monchi returned to Sevilla in April 2019.


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