Westley wants home-grown talent to grace new Stadium

Academy Manager Terry Westley wants to see home-grown talent play in new Stadium
Academy Manager Terry Westley wants to blood a new breed of home-grown West Ham United talent and where better to start than at the Club’s new home on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

To hammer the point home, Westley recently took eight of the Academy’s hottest prospects to check out the former Olympic Stadium for themselves, all of whom have been guaranteed scholarships, if not professional contracts.  
The visit was not just any old school trip, as Westley points out, but rather the incentive of a lifetime for these teenage footballers, armed with the ambition to return to the Stadium’s home dressing room as senior pros. 
“For the young players we've brought, this will be their Stadium if they're lucky enough to play in the team,” Westley told West Ham TV. “It should be motivation enough for any young boy to really want to kick on. 
“I said on the way to the Stadium: ‘Don't just use this as a little school outing. Use this as motivation, in terms of this is where my career could be. This is where I could be playing every week for West Ham. In this Stadium, plying my trade, at the highest level possible.’ 
“The Stadium has got a huge value to a player to want to come and play for this football club. We sometimes talk about the vast sums of money in the Premier League, but this isn't about money, this is about wanting to play at one of the best stadiums in Europe, if not the world.”  
Sixteen-year-old midfielder Joe Powell, who committed his future to the Club alongside Reece Oxford back in January, got the message loud and clear. While there may not be an immaculate playing surface to admire just yet, Powell insists it hardly takes a great leap of the imagination to dream of playing there.       
“It's a good opportunity for us to come out of school and see where we may actually be playing in the future,” Powell confirmed. “We’re working hard towards it and I think it will make us knuckle down even more to get that chance to play in the Stadium. 
It's great to think of yourself being out there. Obviously the pitch isn't there yet, but it's good to close your eyes and imagine being out on that pitch one day making your debut.”

Music to the ears of Westley, who has plenty of faith in this latest crop of players. West Ham’s Academy is awash with youth internationals these days and Westley plans to reignite the culture and history of his predecessor Tony Carr MBE’s tenure.  
“This is a talented group of players,” Westley continued. “We want them to kick on as a Club and start having West Ham home-grown players playing in this magnificent Stadium.
“Home-grown players are special. They understand the importance of it and the pride of playing for your home town. Hopefully, when we watch that first game, some of these young ones will be involved. But with this magnificent Stadium comes pressure and you've got to be some talent to come and play on this pitch.   
“You look back and you look at Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Jimmy Greaves and then I think of Ferdinand, Lampard, Cole, Defoe, Carrick. That is what this lot have got to do, that is now the task.
“Mark Noble and James Tomkins have carried on that tradition, there's now got to be a new breed of young West Ham players. That's what we hope to bring to the Club in the next three years.”
If all goes to plan, Westley will see several an Academy starlet make their mark in those three years, but for the time being, just contemplating that first game at the new Stadium in August 2016 is a thrill in itself. 
“You can picture the atmosphere here, first game of the season, or first floodlit game, with the lights on and people milling around outside. 50-odd thousand people here, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles playing, and it's actually going to happen. That's the staggering bit. It is something to really cherish and look forward to. 
“I'm so pleased I've come, I'm so pleased I've seen it. It is awesome. I’ve got tingles just thinking about it. The old stadium's got great history and great things have happened there, but there's got to be a new legacy made at this Stadium.”
Westley himself had not stepped inside the former Olympic Stadium since the Games and, suffice to say, he wasn’t disappointed!  
“It's a dream for all of us. The vastness of it. It is like a national stadium, as good as anywhere I've travelled, anywhere I've seen. You think of Wembley, it will be like your first team playing at a national stadium every single home game. It’s frightening.”