Dan is the main man

Dan Potts was all smiles as he collected the 2011/12 Young Hammer of the Year award - despite suffering from a painful stomach upset on the night!

The 18-year-old was bent double just moments after he left the stage after being presented with the trophy by Academy Director Tony Carr.

However, he managed a broad grin as he accepted an award that marked the culmination of a truly outstanding campaign for club and country.

After making a strong start, Sam Allardyce called Potts up to his first-team squad in the autumn, handing him a debut in the absence of the injured George McCartney in the 1-0 home npower Championship win over Barnsley on 17 December. The left-back performed admirably, totalling four first-team appearances over the next three weeks.

Potts' rapid rise did not affect his appearances for the Under-18s, though, and his mature approach and captaincy helped the youngsters reach the FA Youth Cup fifth round and enjoy a strong season in the FA Premier Academy League.

The Young Hammer of the Year award was a fitting reward for the teenager just two years after being given the all-clear following a childhood fight against leukaemia.

"It's a great way to end the season," he told West Ham TV. "It's been a great year for me and this caps it off to be honest. I'm really pleased with the award, my mum and dad are very proud too. I'm grateful for the support I've had from the manager and from my family. I hope I can continue and keep pushing forward."

Potts said there was no secret to his achievements this year, only hard work and dedication to the cause.

"I've just continued to put the work in on the training field and pushing for that first team debut. Ive been very keen to show what I can do all season. It's all about being patient, whenever I go out there I give my all and thankfully Big Sam noticed and gave me my chance.

"This has been the best year of my life without a doubt. To win this award at the end makes all the effort worthwhile and it's a great achievement for me."