Sam Allardyce hails former Newcastle and West Ham captain, calls him one of the best of his kind

Sam Allardyce Press Conference Disappointed 12/02/2014

The former Hammers boss suggests his ex-skipper Kevin Nolan was up there with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard as an English midfielder.

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has hailed his former captain Kevin Nolan, claiming that the current Leyton Orient man was "one of the best of his kind" during his prime, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.

Nolan was Allardyce's captain at Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United, and West Ham United as the careers of the two men intertwined throughout the 2000s.

In total, Nolan has played more than 600 senior first-team matches in England, and returned to the game as player-manager of Orient in January after leaving the Hammers by mutual consent at the start of the season.

Allardyce has nothing but high praise for his former stalwart and suggests that the 33-year-old never got anything like the recognition his ability and attitude deserved.

The current Black Cats manager said of Nolan, as quoted by the Standard: "Kevin is and always has been an under-rated player. Only someone who has worked with him would appreciate exactly what he brings to a team, not only from a football perspective — but as a man.

"For many years, despite consistently battling against other midfield players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard for international recognition, he was one of the best of his kind, regularly scoring double figures in a season.

"When you consider he was in his mid-20s when he captained players at Bolton such as Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro, Nicolas Anelka, Bruno N’Gotty and Stelios, it shows you the size of responsibility he took on and he handled it very well.

"I'm glad he has moved into management [but] I was disappointed for him that no one came in for him to carry on playing in the Premier League because they would have got an experienced and quality player on a free transfer."

Despite playing consistently at the highest level for the majority of a decade-and-a-half with Bolton, Newcastle, and West Ham, Nolan was never once capped by the England senior side.

As suggested by his former manager, that was perhaps largely because of the quality of competition for a central midfield place in the England side, with stars such as Gerrard and Lampard holding down a regular spot, although Nolan has publicly expressed his disappointment at being overlooked throughout his career.

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