The 2012/13 season has already been a memorable one for 18-year-old Robert Hall. After making his Barclays Premier League debut he has gone on to impress in the new Under-21 format of the competition.
The Aylesbury-born forward spent the majority of last season on loan but has returned to east London with a vengeance this campaign, with five goals to his name for Ian Hendon's young side already this season.
Speaking exclusively to whufc.com, Hall talks about the past, the present and his hopes for a bright future with West Ham United.
What was it like making your Barclays Premier League debut during the 3-0 win against Fulham?
RH: "It was simply amazing because it is what I have wanted to do my entire life. The game was already won and we were 3-0 up so I just wanted to get on and show everybody what I could do. It was an amazing day and a very nice one for my family and friends, it is pretty indescribable. I only had around 20 minutes on the field but I will take that and hopefully I can keep getting in the squad, on to the bench and on to the pitch because even if it is just for a cameo appearance I will love every minute."
You have also played in the Capital One Cup against Crewe Alexandra and Wigan Athletic. Did you notice an excitement around the Boleyn Ground when you entered the fray?
RH: "I think so. The crowd always give me a nice cheer when I come on and they are fantastic at Upton Park and they have been great when I have travelled away with the first-team. Now I want to keep working hard and learn from the older members of the squad and get all the advice I can from them."
You spent much of last season out on loan with Oxford United and MK Dons. Do you feel you benefitted from those spells playing first-team football every week?
RH: "Definitely. It not only helps me when I am with the first team but also when I am playing in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with the Development Squad. Our last game against Blackburn Rovers was a very physical encounter and it reminded me of my time playing in the lower leagues. We had to grind out the result and couldn't perhaps play in the free flowing way we would have liked, but we dug deep and got the three points. A number of the lads have also played in the Football League and that experience definitely helps."
You seem to mention Oxford United a lot on twitter. Are you a supporter or is your affiliation with the club simply due to growing up in nearby Aylesbury?
RH: "I wouldn't say I was a supporter but I grew up in the area and grew up knowing about the club and watching it from a very young age. It was nice to go there and have an impact because they showed a lot of faith in me by selecting me in the starting line-up for my first game. I learnt a lot during my time there and now I am using that to make myself a better player for West Ham United."
If you could pick one moment that perfectly encapsulates your time at the Kassam Stadium what would it be?
RH: "The whole experience I had there was great. Chris Wilder, Mickey Lewis and Andy Melville all helped me every day and even if we were not training they would be there if I needed advice. It was nice to be able to repay them for the confidence they showed in me and for all they taught me but there was one game that stood out for me and that was the win over Plymouth Argyle. I scored two goals and the game was played at home at the Kassam so that was very special because I personally had a very good game but the team also played really well that day."
You mentioned the coaching staff at Oxford United and all that they have done for you. From a West Ham United perspective does it help being coached by people like Sam Allardyce and Ian Hendon, who have been there and done it as players?
RH: "For sure, the experience we have at West Ham United is unbelievable. The players and staff at the club have seen it all and as young players we can only learn from that. It doesn't matter if you are gifted or talented because attitude and working hard is what will get you to where you want to be. We need to keep working hard and take in what they are teaching us because it will only improve upon the skills and attributes we already have."
You have been playing with Blair Turgott for over a decade; do you feel your development has been aided by playing with the same team from a very young age?
RH: "Of course. There are a lot of players within the Development Squad and the Academy that have been at the club for a long time. Matthias Fanimo, Danny Potts, Jack Powell and Blair have all come through the ranks with me and we have played with each other since we were around seven years old. We are the same as we were then and we will keep learning and progressing as a team and helping each other to get better. Off the pitch me and Blair are like brothers so it is nice to play in the same team and be here together after spending most of last season apart. I think it has showed too because we have started the season incredibly well, scored a lot of goals and we are top of the league. Our long-lasting relationships will only bring positives to our performances."
It is very hard to look too far into the future as an 18-year-old playing in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League but what are your hopes for the coming years?
RH: "I don't want to predict too much because I am still very young but my only dream is the same as it has been since I was even younger and that is to play regularly for West Ham United. I am keeping my feet on the ground and hopefully I can take that next step over the next few years. Young players always talk about cementing their place in the first team but I just want to be a part of the first team even if it is on the bench. Little cameos will allow me to learn and even if I do not perform to the best of my ability it will benefit me and only make me more determined to succeed."
Finally, do you enjoy mixing up your training with the first team and Development Squad?
RH: "The staff we have got involve everyone, whether it is defenders, midfielders or attackers, everybody is treated equal and everybody gets a fair crack at the whip. There is a very positive atmosphere around the club at the moment and it is helping the younger players because we are getting the chance on the training pitch to show what we can do."