West Ham United continue to make great strides at all academy levels with the Under-14s recently showing their promise with a highly successful trip to a major Italian youth competition.
Under the guidance of academy coach Nick Haycock, a youthful team took part in the 18th international tournament of Città di Cairo Montenotte. The young Hammers finished in a creditable fifth place, having been the only English team taking part in the prestigious 24-club event which mostly featured Italian sides. These included leading lights from Serie A such as Internazionale, AC Milan, Juventus and Sampdoria.
In the group stage, West Ham United were drawn in Group E with Cairese 95, CSKA Mosow and Chisola and promptly showed their class by scoring 23 goals and not conceding. They opened with a 15-0 win against Cairese before following that up later in the day with a 5-0 success against Russian giants CSKA. The next day of action saw progress secured with a 3-0 victory against Chisola.
That form took United through to a quarter-final against Torino and yet again the youngsters kept a clean sheet while those further forward scored twice to ensure an excellent 2-0 victory. That success meant West Ham United would compete in a three-team heavyweight 'semi-final' against AC Milan and Sampdoria for a place in the overall final. As well as Haycock, the boys were under the guidance of assistant Mark Ellis, physio Anthony Coleman and kit man Pete Williams.
In the first game, an older Milan side ultimately proved too strong and the Rossoneri eventually won 2-0. Haycock's team bounced back though to secure a 1-0 victory against Sampdoria, who themselves beat Milan and ended up going to the final where they lost out to overall champions Inter. West Ham United signed off with a 2-0 win against CSKA in the play-off to see who would finish fifth with Elliott Lee, the younger brother of Under-18s midfielder Oliver and son of former Hammers favourite Robert, scoring both goals.