Third-time lucky for Spence

Jordan Spence is in Hong Kong for an international tournament but could be forgiven for occasionally letting his mind wander back to last Sunday.

It was a case of third-time lucky as the Academy graduate made his senior West Ham United debut against Manchester City.  The England Under-19 defender received an early 20th birthday present by replacing Alessandro Diamanti for the final five minutes of the 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at the Boleyn Ground.

Twice before, Spence had been an unused substitute against City - once for West Ham in the Premier League on 24 August 2008 and once while on loan at Scunthorpe United in a League Cup tie on 28 October 2009.

"It's funny, because I've been on the bench twice against Manchester City - once with West Ham and once while I was on loan at Scunthorpe. It was nice to make it third time fortunate and actually play against them, and with their stature it wasn't a small fixture, so it was good."

For Spence, who turns 20 on 24 May, making his first appearance in claret in blue was the result of six years of hard work.

Having graduated from the Academy of Football in 2006, the versatile defender appeared for England at U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels, while also enjoying productive loan spells at Leyton Orient and Scunthorpe over the past two seasons.

"It was nice. I think I was on for five or so minutes, and I've got to give thanks to God really, because from the off it's been a long season for all of us. From a personal perspective, I just want to thank God for that opportunity, because I've been here since I was 14 and I've been a ball boy out there, so it was nice to finally get on the park with my name on my back. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.

"This was obviously the next progression I wanted to take. I want to thank all of the people who I have worked with at the club, because it was the work that they did with me that helped me to get to that position on the pitch on Sunday.

"I think it's been a learning process and my ultimate goal is to be out there regularly. I have obviously developed over previous seasons, but this year I have made the step up to regular senior football and I'm happy to be there. The next thing is to be out there playing for West Ham on a regular basis.

"I want to carry on where I have left off at the end of this season when I come back, getting a little bit closer every week. I will put in the hard work on the training pitch and whenever I get the opportunity and kick on from there."

While his debut went well, Spence ran the risk of upsetting the Hammers faithful by ignoring their tongue-in-cheek demands to let former Hammer of the Year Carlos Tevez score a late winner.

"To be fair I didn't even hear them! I was just concentrating on my job and keeping them out, and thankfully we did so."