Akinola states new Stadium ambition

Tunji Akinola is the latest Academy player to commit his future to the Hammers
West Ham United are delighted to announce that highly rated centre-back Tunji Akinola has signed a new contract, keeping him at the Club until 2019. 

Still only just 16-years-old, Akinola has impressed coaches at the Academy for several seasons, making a total of 18 appearances for the U18s last term. 

After putting pen to paper on a new deal, the young Hammer beamed: “I’m very delighted to have signed a new contract. It’s a great day for me and my family. Not just because I signed a new long term deal but it’s also nice that the Club have shown great confidence in me and my ability.

“It’s definitely up there with the best day of my football career so far. I think West Ham suits me, the style that we play, the way we go about what we do. The fans are always very committed.”

In a breakthrough season, Akinola also made his debut for the U21s, putting in an assured and composed performance against Fulham. 

Akinola, whose family witnessed him commit his future to the Irons, said: “That was another career highlight when I made my U21 debut at sixteen against Fulham. It was a great achievement; I played for the U21s twice so that was good. 

“My aims for this season are to continue progressing, mainly for the U18s but hopefully for the U21s. I would like to train with the first team too if possible. I’m a centre-back, I like to get on the ball. I like to put my body on the line and defend well.”

Akinola’s signature is just the latest bit of good news coming out of the West Ham United Academy, following seven other home-grown highly rated players to commit their futures as well as a number of Academy graduates making their senior first team debuts.     

“Seeing players like Reece Burke and Reece Oxford make their first team debuts is definitely a massive inspiration. Seeing your friends go out on the pitch, and do so well, definitely makes you think ‘I would love to do that.’”

Earlier in the year, the centre-back, alongside his Academy teammates was taken on a tour of the Club’s fantastic new Stadium in Stratford. 

As one of the first people ever to take a tour of the Hammers’ new home, it was an occasion that clearly left a lasting impression on the youngster.  

 “It was a great experience going on a tour of the new Stadium. The eight of us who signed new contracts, it was a really great experience. It was a much bigger place than I thought it would be, it was a bit overwhelming. 

“Hopefully in a few years’ time I’ll be ready to make my debut there.” 

Akinola finished by heralding the positive atmosphere that surrounds the Club, from the arrival of new manager Slaven Bilic to the rejuvenation of the Academy.  

“There’s been a lot of change and improvement recently which can only be a good thing for the Club. We’re all looking forward to working with the new staff that have come in.”