Freddie Sears has pledged to come back stronger for the new season after giving a taste of his potential in the 2007/08 run-in.
A winning goal five minutes into his debut against Blackburn Rovers back in March was followed by five more substitute appearances and one start. He also got to play against the champions-elect in front of 76,000 fans away to Manchester United and ultimately had the satisfaction as a boyhood Hammers fan of helping the team finish above old rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
"It has been a bit of a struggle at times but we got there in the end," he said. "It was a good team effort. We all dug deep and it really meant a lot to the boys. One of the aims for the end of the season was to be above Spurs and come tenth and we did that." While the squad finished on a collective high, Sears could not hide his individual happiness at making an impact after 25 goals in 24 appearances for the youth and reserve teams.
The England Under-19 international said: "Looking back it has been a great season for me personally. Coming into the team like that when I scored, then making more appearances and I have got my first start. Everything this season has just been a bonus for me. I have got lots of experience and played at Old Trafford. I will come back stronger next season, hopefully play more games and see where it takes me."
Having grown up watching on from the stands as players such as his hero Paolo Di Canio ruled the Boleyn Ground roost , Sears relished the chance to take to the pitch with the rest of the squad after the final game of the season. "It was a really good atmosphere and nice to walk around the pitch at the end and say thanks to the fans. It was good for everyone to finish like that." While his team-mates prepare for holidays, Sears is getting ready to join up with England U19s for a crucial qualifying tournament. whufc.com will have more news on that to come.