Where are they now? Javier Margas: From West Ham to crazy hotelier


A double dose of the Sky Sports cameras in the space of five days means that West Ham’s credentials are to be put under severe scrutiny this week.

And after an impressive victory over Newcastle on Monday night, the visit of Manchester City will require all in claret and blue to give their everything for Slaven Bilic at the weekend.

Giving it all, or even being there at all for the Hammers is something that this week’s Where are they now? candidate struggled with at times, before adorning himself to the Irons faithful with his returning gift.

Signed on the back of some impressive performances for Chile at the World Cup in 1998, Javier Margas’ time at the Boleyn was as eventful as his life since leaving east London.

His first season at the club was marred with frustration and home-sickness, as Harry Redknapp reported that one day he went to the defender’s hotel room to find that he had taken his passport and fled back to his homeland.

But that wasn’t the end of his time at West Ham, as he returned and was given a second chance to show what he could do in England.

The man himself was keen to apologise to the Hammers faithful and show his commitment to the club by taking to the field during a UEFA Cup tie against Osijek with a very dashing hair ‘do.


All told though, his career at the club was limited to just 30 appearances before he left in 2001 and retired from the game.

His unpredictable antics didn’t end when he hung up his boots though.

Like many ex sports stars, the celebrity status that Margas was adorned with back home saw him turn to reality TV.

In 2006 he took part in a programme called “Expedicion Robinson – de la Isla VIP”, whereby 16 Chilean stars were dumped on an uninhabited island in the Dominican Republic and left to fend for themselves.

Whether it was home-sickness or otherwise, Margas’ spell on the show was short-lived as he became just the fourth person to be eliminated.

However, he has been far more successful in business than he has on television shows in the 14 years since his retirement.

Taking an interest in becoming a hotelier, the former full-back did what any businessman would do and purchase two out-of-service Boeing 737s.

At the cost of 25 million pesos (around £23,000) Margas and his company then renovated the aircraft to create a pair of single room motels, both complete with Jacuzzis.

But that isn’t where his foray into the hospitality business ends, as the 63-capped international also has a range of other establishments.

And with Valentine’s Day approaching, he had an ingenious way to attract more business to the group of motels.

He added ‘erotic chairs’ to every room to make his guests ‘manoeuvres’ more varied.

“Our idea was to do something special for the day. We’re also offering free drinks and flowers to every couple,” he told LUN.

But he doesn’t go as far as allowing three people to share a room, something reported to be a popular request, simply “because it lends itself to a lot of clutter”. Fair point.

His success in securing the aforementioned aircraft pinpoints another love of Margas’ since giving up the beautiful game; attending auctions.

From purchasing suitcases containing Rolex and Cartier watches for 34 million Pesos (£32k), to securing 20,000 pairs of jeans from a company that had fallen on hard times, his acquisitions are varied.

The crowning glory for Margas though when it comes to the auction room is the purchase of former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s armoured car.

Securing the 1986 Mercedes Benz 500 series for 13 million Pesos (approximately £12,000), the former Hammer told why he made the final bid.

“At this stage of my life I can buy the things that I like. I’ve always been a great admirer of General Pinochet,” he said.

So as he drives from erotic hotel to his plane-cum-villa in his bullet-proof motor it’s fair to say that Javier Margas has certainly not gone AWOL when it comes to splashing the cash in his retirement.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.