Ricardo Vaz Te took a trip down memory lane on Tuesday, revisiting the futsal of his youth with national champions and West Ham United partner school Eastbury Comprehensive.

Eastbury's year ten side are primed for the ISF Futsal 2014 World Schools Championships in Sardinia next month and Portuguese midfielder Vaz Te was on hand to offer his encouragement and advice.

The 27-year-old was shocked and delighted to see futsal thriving in an inner city school, an altogether different setting to that which he formerly graced in Guinea-Bissau as a youngster.

Ricardo Vaz Te
Vaz Te shares a joke with Eastbury's futsal champions

"I was very surprised," he confessed. "I loved that, it touched me, seeing the kids playing futsal. They even have a girls' team, so it was fantastic to see.

"I think they [the year tens] have got a great opportunity. They've qualified, so they have to be good, I guess, to do so. I wish them the very best and the teachers are saying they're very good students, which is very important. Once you're doing sport or you're good at sport, your family or the people around you tend to forget that academically you have to be good as well."

Having spoken at length with the Italy-bound boys, Vaz Te was whisked off to the sports hall, where he watched year seven girls participating in the FA's Team Sixteen Project, before taking in a boy's futsal session led by the Club's very own Community Sports Trust coaches.

Ricardo Vaz Te
All smiles in the sports hall as Vaz Te meets more pupils

Greeted with smiles at every turn, it was an experience that Vaz Te clearly enjoyed, humbled by the very warmest of welcomes.

He continued: "Everything was so pleasant and it was kind of overwhelming the reception I got. It made me very happy and made me feel like a celebrity!

"I love it. I came from humble beginnings so it's great for me, even for the students to pay attention. I'm happy to share my experiences and hopefully it will help them along the way.

"I'll do it any time, I don't mind. It's great to give back and to put smiles on people's faces, it's amazing. And I like kids. I love them, because they're genuine."

Assistant head of year Wayne Baldacchino expects Vaz Te's visit to have an enduring positive effect on the school, with students and staff alike revelling in the presence of a Premier League footballer.

"If we'd have publicised it too soon, it would have been mass hysteria," he confirmed. "In this environment, to have a Premier League footballer, to have a West Ham player, to have Ricardo Vaz Te, who is a household name in this area, the buzz was brilliant.

"Everyone wanted to shake his hand, say hello and ask a question. But there has been a mutual respect. Ricardo's respected those kids that have waited around after school to meet him and the kids have responded in a really positive way. It made a really nice feeling for the whole event.

"I think he's as inspired as the kids are. As I said, if the kids are meeting a Premier League footballer in all of the Club kit and they've seen the pictures around the school, they will definitely go away happy.

"The things that he said to them about injuries, trialling in all different places and being given an opportunity, that story of his will link with a lot of the stories that the kids are having here. So I think his inspiration to the individuals and to the school as a whole will have a great positive impact."

Vaz Te's Barking outing is the latest in a long line of collaborations between Eastbury and the Hammers, a partnership that has evolved and continues to do so through the Club's Football for All scheme.  

"Our link with West Ham United Football Club is great anyway, through the Community Sports Trust, the Kids for a Quid scheme, the Inspire Learning Centre," Mr Baldacchino explained.

"We've got a few kids in lots of sports that are part of academies and county level, so they're all aspiring to get to the top level, which is Ricardo's forte, if you like. We tap into the Kids for a Quid every time they advertise. We probably buy 100 tickets or more for every fixture, because it's important for our students to go and watch their stars.

"For West Ham to promote Kids for a Quid, four, five, six times a season is amazing. Because in real terms that's five or 600 students from this school that get to go and watch that fixture. The opportunity to go to the Boleyn Ground, 35,000 people, the whole environment, the brand and obviously in two years' time being in the Olympic Stadium, it's just brilliant for everybody involved."  

That togetherness is a sentiment shared by Vaz Te, who continues to be impressed by the Hammers' commitment to working alongside the local community.

"The Club does so much. Since I came to West Ham I noticed that, actually, it is one of the things that made me want to stay longer and be here. Because they do so much, they put smiles on so many faces, it's unbelievable. Charity wise, everything really. I think it's pretty good, it's pretty amazing, I don't think any other Premier League Club does it like West Ham."