On Top Of The World!

There aren't many Hammers fans who could envisage the day that we rival the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma at the pinnacle of world football, but that is exactly what is happening out in Germany at precisely this moment!

The club's under-14 squad are currently taking part in the Nike Premier Cup World Finals in Berlin, and on Friday reached the quarter-finals of the most prestigious schoolboy tournament on the planet.

Over 6,000 teams from around the globe entered the competition last year, with West Ham winning the British section up in Newcastle to qualify for the World Finals. They have joined some of the world's biggest footballing names in Berlin this week, and are just three games away from claiming the title as the best team of their age group in the universe!

After winning their group this week, when they came up against Helsinborgs (Sweden), Aachen (Germany), Kwang Ju Buk Sung (Korea) and Universidad de Chile (Chile), the Hammers have been drawn to face Brazilian side Vitoria SA in the quarter-final on Saturday morning. The Brazilians have already seen off the likes of Santos, Corinthians and Juventus, while Roma have just been knocked out of the competition.

Should the Hammers be successful, the semi-final will take place on Saturday afternoon, with the final scheduled for Sunday.

Spanish giants Real Madrid are still in the tournament, and Director of Youth Development Jimmy Hampson, who has travelled with the young starlets to Germany, admits that the standard of football being played by the schoolboys is staggering.

"There is a team from Nigeria out here who are simply outstanding," says Jimmy, "and the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma have all taken it very seriously.

"The boys have already done themselves and the club very proud, and it is a fantastic experience for them.

"6,000 teams entered this competition to start with and we have been left with the cream of youngsters from around the world. For West Ham to be involved with this is a fantastic achievement and the future of the club certainly looks bright if these boys continue to progress.

"We now have to face a very strong Vitoria side, but anything can happen at this stage and the boys are all enjoying the competition."