When the telephone rang for Tony Carr MBE in July 1973, little did he know that a conversation with the late West Ham United manager John Lyall would launch a career in coaching still going strong some 40 years later.

Carr was only 22 at the time and considering his future after a broken leg, amongst other injuries, had virtually put paid to his prospects as a player.

Already aware that he enjoyed coaching, Carr had obtained the requisite coaching badges and was a qualified PE teacher. So when Lyall offered him the chance to come back to West Ham to work part-time in the Academy, he was only too glad to take the plunge.

40 years on, and with a whole string of famed Academy graduates to his name, Carr, along with a dedicated team of staff around him, is still taking care of the next generation of Hammers.

"Who would have thought, 40 years down the line, I would still be here and doing what I am doing," he told whufc.com. "Someone said to me, you seem to like coaching, you enjoy it and are good, so go for it. And I did! It's great and I still love it, that's why I am still doing it and at the Club where I started out, you can't get much better.

"My job and that of my staff is to find the next generation of footballers and bringing those players through to the first-team here. Many of these players have gone on to represent their country and played at the highest level, which is something I, and we as a Club, can be very proud of.

"We first see a player at the age of eight or nine and then try to nurture them through both as a player and as young men. Even if they don't make it at the top level, if they still make a career playing football, then that is success.

"It is well known that the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick have come through and made it at the very top level. Then our very own Joe Cole, Mark Noble, James Tomkins, Jack Collison who are all in our first team now. It's why you do what you do and get the satisfaction of the job."

Tomkins, like many of his contemporaries, owes a great deal to Carr and the Hammers centre-half paid tribute to his unstinting work for the Club.

He said: "I've known Tony for years, since he first brought me through the ranks when I left school. He's had a massive influence on my career as he helped with the big step from being a young lad in the Under-18s to playing for the reserves and then, eventually, the first team.

"I think he's been successful because of his coaching methods and the way he goes about training. He makes you feel loved and part of a family. West Ham has always been a family Club and you can always go and talk to him. I'm sure he's got a few years left in him yet but what he has achieved has been fantastic when you look at the number of players he has delivered for West Ham.

"It would be a hard feat for anyone to replicate. It doesn't come by luck, it comes through the hard work he has put in. We all have so much respect for him. I'd like to wish him a happy 40th anniversary. 40 years is incredible. Tony is a top man and I hope he stays in the game for many more years yet as he his record speaks for itself."

Tomkins can rest assured that Carr has no plans to hang up his boots just yet, not least with the likes of Dan Potts and Seb Lletget starting to make an impression in senior football.

"I am now in the position to watch young Dan Potts getting his foot in the door with the first team and I had his dad, Steve, come through as a youth player in our Academy, who's now back at the Club managing the Under-18s. Though it does make you feel a bit old!

"Seb Lletget is another young player who has caught manager Sam Allardyce's eye and is grabbing his chance. To be part of it all still after this time, is still something I enjoy and relish coming into every day."

Like anything else in football, coaching has changed a great deal over the years, and Carr, together with his colleagues, have overseen the Academy's growth with the introduction of the Elite Player Performance Plan. The future is also set to bring transition off the pitch and Carr feels as privileged as ever to be a part of West Ham United.

"It is an exciting time. If we are to move forward as a Club, you have to look at everything and that includes the Stadium you play in. I think it's good news and will hopefully allow us to reach the next level at the Olympic Stadium.

"For me, I still have the hunger for the challenge of seeing where the next young player is coming from and ensuring we have a successful academy. I am now in the middle of another pre-season and still enjoying it. I feel I have a few years in me yet!"