An energetic midfielder and sometime central defender, Josh Payne began the 2008/09 season as West Ham United's Under-18 captain. By the end of it, he was a regular member of Gianfranco Zola's first-team squad.
After representing both Portsmouth and Southampton as a youngster, Payne joined West Ham in early 2007, impressing Academy Director Tony Carr with his all-round ability and attitude.
The 2008/09 campaign saw Payne start the campaign captaining Carr's U18s. Having impressed at youth level, he was promoted to the reserve team for the opening Barclays Premier Reserve League fixture of the season against Chelsea at Brentford's Griffin Park.
Payne did not look at all out of place in Alex Dyer's reserve team and impressed watching Cheltenham Town manager, and former Hammers midfielder, Martin Allen. Soon afterwards Allen asked West Ham to allow Payne to join the League One Robins on loan, which he did on 25 September 2008.
The youngster would spend the next three months at Whaddon Road, scoring on his debut in a 2-2 draw with Stockport County before being sent-off in his second game for the club, a 3-3 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion. Payne would go on to make 13 league and cup appearances for Cheltenham.
Back at Chadwell Heath, Payne was invited to train with the first-team squad, impressing manager Zola, who handed him his debut as a substitute in the 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on 21 March 2009.
Basingstoke-born Payne went on to make his second first-team appearance in the 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool on 9 May.