Freddie Sears could not have been any happier after putting the advice of his manager to spectacular effect with a four-goal haul for West Ham United reserves.
Sears went home with the match ball after scoring all of the reserves' goals in a 4-3 win against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night. Under the watching gaze of manager Gianfranco Zola and No2 Steve Clarke, Sears pulled his side level three times before grabbing a winner two minutes from the end.
Reflecting on a wonderful night's work before leaving the Woodside Park home of Bishop's Stortford, the teenage forward revealed that he was benefiting from the tips given to him by Zola on the training ground. "The manager helps everyone out but for me we're pretty similar physique- wise so he said, 'You've just go to believe that every time you get the ball you're the best player on the ball," Sears explained.
"In training we've done individual stuff with him and he's taken me aside to do some shooting. It's good because he's been there at the top level and he's probably been one of the top players out there so it's good for someone like him to come in and help us on the way forward."
Sears had already recorded braces this term for the Under-18s and the reserves in a practice match against Wycombe Wanderers, but four goals in a game is something else. The beaming striker said: "To win the game and to score four - you can't ask much more than that. I think the team played well and dug in having gone behind a few times. I thought we did really well," he said.
"We went behind three times and it's a bit of a kick in the teeth to go back but I think we believed we could get another chance and get back."
Sears displayed some lethal finishing - scoring three with his right foot, including a penalty, and one with his left. "The first two goals were OK, the third goal was a poacher's one. It's just good to be in the positions you look to score from so it's all good."
Following Kevin Keen's promotion to the first team, Alex Dyer took control of the reserve side for the match and sent them out to play in the same formation used by the first team in recent games. Sears said: "We changed the system and we coped with it pretty well. We have a big man playing up front and then two people playing off him which is a good little role if you can do it right and I think I can cope with either role.
"I can play either position - I can play up top or on the wings so it's probably better for me and the teams that I can adapt to both."