Carlton Cole took time out this week to pay a visit to the FA Vauxhall Football Mash Up event at the Dagenham Goals Centre, in conjunction with West Ham United Community Sports Trust.

The Hammers striker was on hand to give advice to a group of local youngsters who, as part of the FA's 150th anniversary's emphasis on shining a light on grass roots initiatives, had been provided with the opportunity to play the nation's favourite game.

Cole was joined for the afternoon by rapper Lethal Bizzle as the pair assisted the FA and West Ham coaches in directing the local youngsters.

29-year-old frontman Cole was full of praise for the Hammers' work in the community.

He told West Ham TV: "Obviously West Ham are very interested in the community around us and we're trying to help in any way we can.

"I'm always there to help the club promote our work around the community and it's these kids who need to stay out of trouble and have something to do after school.

"Football's always a good place to start - any sport in fact - and I'm pleased to be able to lend a helping hand.

"People need good role models. I try to give advice to the youngsters coming up. My brother and sister are always asking me for advice. Youngsters don't get to see Premier League footballers for advice every day, so that's why I like to show my support and any questions they have for me I try to answer them.

"This is a massive scheme that contributes to the well-being of kids staying out of trouble."

Cole's own inspiration as he was growing up was provided by his uncle Duncan King and, having now forged a career in top level football, he is only too happy to give back to the local community.

He added: "I always had my uncle to support me - he told me about myself and let me know when I was going wrong. He's still by my side every step of the way.

"He's been my mentor, and obviously there are other stars in the public eye - as a young black guy I always looked to Johnny Barnes, Ian Wright, John Fashanu, all these other players that I could relate to. I wanted to be where they were.

"Football clubs have the tools and they have to use them. West Ham are up there in terms of their work for the community. I've been to loads of schools and schemes like this one. They've always looked out for the community around them and that's great."

West Bromwich Albion