West Ham stars deliver a masterclass to the kids
17:30 13 April 2015
Hammers first-teamers plus attacking coach Teddy Sheringham take Academy boys through their paces
It was back to the classroom and the playing fields for West Ham’s Academy boys last week, but what better teachers for the youngster than professors Adrian, Cresswell, Noble and headmaster Sheringham.
The Hammers stars headed to the club’s Academy at Rush Green to help pass on their knowledge to the next generation of West Ham stars with a special masterclass.
The quartet all held teaching sessions with youngsters who play in their positions for the West Ham United Academy at under-nine to under-14 level, teaching them both in the classroom facilities and in practical coaching drills on the pitches.
Mark Noble came through the famed Hammers Academy himself, while Sheringham, who featured for West Ham towards the end of his playing career, was a 51-cap England international, so Academy Manager & Head of Player Development and Coaching Terry Westley was delighted that the youngsters were able to tap into their expertise.
He said: “Events like these do not happen often, even for the under-21 players. You’re not at the same training ground, so you don’t rub shoulders with them and you don’t see them every day.
“For these younger players to mix, be coached, talked to and be in the same room as these well-known West Ham players in the Premier League can only help them.
“Our thinking was, ‘could we get the very best players we’ve got, integrated with the signed players in the Academy?’ That’s what we saw on Thursday.
“With the youngsters being able to see Mark, who has come through this Academy, they can see it’s possible to make it to the top.
“Mark’s a local boy from around the corner so it can happen and it’s interesting too what they all said in the classroom first - about the dedication, desire and determination to be successful.
“The money and riches come afterwards. They didn’t talk about that, they talked about the hard work and wanting to improve. That came across to our young ones.”
Following an initial classroom session, in which each player talked through clips of them in action for the Hammers first team, they all took a group of the young players to put their words into practice on the pitch.
Midfielder Noble was only too happy to share his knowledge gained from a decade in the West Ham first team, especially given his history of having come through the ranks with the Hammers.
He explained: “They can relate to me because I’ve been here in their position. It’s tough, and I’ll never lie to the boys, because you know the stats say a lot of them don’t make it.
“But what a place to learn and play and I’m sure if they work hard and listen to their coaches they’ll have a great chance to play here.
“Just to be able to give the boys some points was great, because I was a kid once and I know how enthusiastic you want to be, run about and do everything. They were great and the more enthusiasm the better.”
That enthusiasm to learn was abundantly clear in fellow midfielders Jake Giddings, 13, and Manny Longelo, 14, who both participated in Noble’s sessions.
Giddings commented: “It was good to be able to learn from Mark. When I go to watch West Ham I always watch him as a player and try to learn from what he does, so to get that in person was a great experience.
“I think it will make me progress a lot more at this Club.”
Longelo echoed those thoughts, adding: “The best piece of advice I received today was about getting my head up all the time and trying to find a player whenever he makes a run, and if it’s not on to try and keep the ball and play it simple.
“If I had to compare myself to a midfielder in the first team now I’d say Stewart Downing because I’m more of a winger. It was great to learn from Mark too.”
Sheringham is more used to honing the first team’s goalscoring ability but was delighted to lend his hand at the Academy in exactly the same manner he teaches the seniors.
He explained: “I would have loved it if any ex-footballers had come down and taught me when I was younger, but we didn’t get the chance. It’s great to be able to come down and help and show them.
“Without a doubt everyone in the Academy can benefit from the session, as there were players from every position involved. For me dedicating it to the strikers and the wide boys was great.
“The main thing was getting the little sessions done at a match tempo. It’s pretty much the same way I’d do it with the first team - it’s not worth doing if you don’t do it at match tempo. That was my emphasis today.”
Westley concluded by reiterating that great young talent does exist at West Ham and other Premier League clubs, despite recent reports detailing the declining number of English players in top flight first teams.
He explained: “Don’t believe all you read in the papers - there are really talented players in this country. You need an opportunity to showcase what you’ve got - even if it’s in front of our four pros here today. You need a chance to show what you can do. I’ve seen enough of our young players here to know we’ve got some really talented ones coming through the system.
“We need to showcase that now, but they’ve then got the responsibility to do well enough. If they go on pre-season trips with the manager, if they play under-21 games, if they play under-nines football every single week they play they’ve got a chance to show us what they’re capable of.”
Let’s hope that this current batch of Academy boys get their chance to show their skills in claret and blue.