Norman Mapeza says he still puzzled after failing to join West Ham despite impressing during a trial stint twenty years ago.

The retired defender played in three friendly games during the trials, and his performances convinced the coaches. He was offered a three-year contract to play for the Hammers but could not sign the deal after the club faced difficulties in securing a work permit for him.

In an interview with the Herald, Mapeza, now 48, said: “In the end, they said they couldn’t get a work permit for me, even though they said they had tried their best to get one.

“It was disappointing, of course, because the manager told me they really wanted me to join the team and he told me I had done very well during my time with the team.

“The other players had also embraced me and were happy with my presence there because they felt I could add value to the team.

“However, such things happen, it’s the way football and life is, there are disappointments here and there, but the most important thing is to keep focused and looking ahead.”

Mapeza later joined Austrian side, SV Reid and then Turkish side Malatyaspor before ending his playing career at Ajax Cape Town in South Africa.