Is There A World Cup Soccer Game Tonight The Academy of Football Has Returned?

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The Academy of Football Has Returned?

West Ham United have been nicknamed the ‘Academy of Football’ since the days of Ron Greenwood and it’s something the club and fans have supported and used for the past 40 years.

The youth development program at the Academy has seen the likes of; Bobby Moore, Jeff Hurst, Martin Peters, Frank Lampard Sr. and junior, Sir Trevor Brooking, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Mark Noble and James Tomkins have all progressed to the first team, these players have won Premier Leagues, play-off finals, FA Cups, Champions Leagues and even championships the world. (Though not many West Ham players make the England squad these days!).

In recent years we’ve only seen Mark Noble and James Tomkins make names for themselves at the highest level, and things have been a little quieter than usual in Academy football over the past fifteen years.

However, there was much speculation at the start of this season that West Ham’s youth team had re-formed. When Rhys Oxford started the first game of the Premier League season against Arsenal (one of the pre-season favourites) at the Emirates at the age of 16 – and went on to replace world-renowned, World Cup-winning midfield maestro Mesut Ozil; next to the pokemon cards in his back pocket, people started talking.

He has only made a handful of first-team appearances since then, but captained the U21s until the end of the season, and last night he led them to the end of a successful campaign to win some silverware.

West Ham United’s development team became the new champions after beating a very testing Hull City side.

The final second leg was in the North East and the Tigers were looking to make home advantage count, after West Ham won 1-0 in stoppage time in the first leg, the Hammers thought they had survived the 90 minutes and were about tasted victory when Will Annan scored an own goal for Hull in stoppage time to take it into extra time.

The next 30 minutes were tight and chances were limited as both sides looked to protect their ‘keepers.

The worst fear of all Englishmen then came true. Series of penalties.

Marcus Browne, Rhys Oxford, Sam Byram, Stephen Hendry and Martin Samuelsen all scored for the Hammers, but goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel’s save from Daniel Betti was decisive.

Terry Westley, West Ham’s youth manager, spoke to the club’s website about his teams performance in the match and you can see he was delighted:

“Great to win” he said.

“At this level we usually talk about development, but tonight we really wanted to win.”

“We took it to the very end, with extra time and penalties, but overall I think we deserved to win. We have to give credit to Hull because they gave us more than a good game; they were good, hard to break and ability.

“Over the course of the two games we created a lot of chances and we really could have stopped the game a lot earlier than we did, especially in the first leg. But this is an important milestone. Everyone has come a long way since the beginning of the journey in Exeter – and we hope that progress will continue.”

It may be the start of a new era for the Football Academy and after such a great season for the Hammers and their imminent move to the new Olympic Stadium – what better time could there be for an influx of new, young, talented, home-grown players?

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