Matthias ready for action

Matthias Fanimo has plenty of reasons to be cheerful ahead of the 2010/11 FA Premier Academy League season.

Not only has the exciting winger been awarded a scholarship by West Ham United, but he has also been included in the England Under-17 squad for the forthcoming Nordic Tournament.

Hammers team-mate Robert Hall helped England to win the UEFA European U17 Championship in Luxembourg earlier this summer, and Fanimo is determined to emulate his team-mate when Kenny Swain's squad head for Finland in early August.

England will take on the host nation, Denmark and Iceland in the group stage, with a final awaiting against Scotland, Sweden, Faroe Islands or Norway should they top their section.

"It's good to play for England - it's pretty much a dream come true for me because you don't think about doing such things when you're a kid," said Fanimo, who earned eight U16 caps and helped his country to Victory Shield glory last winter.

At club level, the 16-year-old has also impressed with his consistency and eye for goal.

After starting the 2009/10 season in West Ham's U16 side, Fanimo graduated to the U18s in December, scoring on his debut and tallying five goals in ten appearances in total.

"Personally it was a good season for me. I moved on to the Under-18s because I adapted to their style of play. I thought it would be harder for me physically and mentally, but I improved as the season went on.

"I came on trial at the age of five and signed on when I was six, so I've been here since then. As a player, I'm quick and powerful and skilful as well.

"Before, getting into the box for me was a bit of a problem due to my fitness. I wasn't scoring as many goals because I wasn't getting into the box, but now my fitness is better so it's not a problem.

"I'm pleased to get my scholarship because it means another two years at the club which I'm enjoying. It was good to get that."

Fanimo is one of no fewer than 13 schoolboys who will begin their scholarships on Monday 5 July, and the youngster believes their team spirit and familiarity on and off the pitch will stand the U18s in good stead in 2009/10.

"We've got a good squad. We're strong in all areas and play as a team. We've been together since Under-12s, so as we've got older we've kept that winning mentality by playing as a team. That's what has helped us."