Wednesday 25 Mar
Updated Wednesday 25 Mar 23:00
Academy

Academy Ace

Ambitious winger Joe Powell would love to emulate his hero and fellow east Londoner David Beckham

Joe Powell signs his first professional deal, watched by Academy Manager Terry Westley and head of Academy recruitment Dave Hunt

One of the highlights of this season was undoubtedly Adrian scoring that winning penalty against Everton in the FA Cup third-round replay, a game of high drama that few will forget.
 
However, that night may prove to be just as memorable for a second reason – the night that Joe Powell signed his first professional contract at his boyhood club West Ham United.  
 
For those that have not yet had the opportunity to watch the 16-year-old in action, Powell is a skilful, pacey winger who can deliver a pinpoint cross at will.
 
Perhaps the best person to describe Powell’s style of play is the man himself: “There wasn’t a particular player I wanted to be when I was growing up but as I grew older I liked the look of David Beckham, I thought he was really good.

“I’d like to think I’m a little bit pacier than Beckham was. Delivery-wise he’s better than me for now, but it’s something I’m targeting!”

Music to the ears for many Hammers fans and the youngster is certainly not lacking in confidence, but if he comes anywhere near to emulating the England icon’s career, we have a lot to look forward to.

While the future certainly looks to be bright, it is worth taking a look at Powell’s blossoming career to date.

“West Ham has always been the club for me. I’ve been on trial at a few other clubs but they weren’t right. I always knew being part of the West Ham family suited me.

“My whole family is West Ham mad, I think it’s down to the area we come from, we’re just born and bred West Ham fans.”
West Ham has always been the club for me. I’ve been on trial at a few other clubs but they weren’t right. I always knew being part of the West Ham family suited me
Having joined the Hammers at the age of eight, Powell can remember his very first match.

“It was a long time ago now but I remember it was at the dome at Chadwell Heath, we won something like 31-7 against Grays. At one point in the game we had to give our ‘keeper to them. I scored a good 12 goals I reckon, I haven’t managed to beat that since!”

Another standout moment for young Powell was meeting Mark Noble.   

“On the day I signed at U9 level Mark Noble was there signing a contract as well. It was a good night. He’d obviously been at the club for a few years, I’d seen him play so it was special.”

The name Powell may be familiar to those who follow the youth team, as his brother Jack also came through the West Ham Academy and is now at Millwall.

“My brother was here at the Academy, so I was in and around the club since I was about four maybe,” explained Powell.

“He’s a big role model for me, we sit down every now and then and have chats about where he didn’t go right. He’s always leading me in the right direction. There’s definitely friendly rivalry between us!”

The younger Powell made his debut for the U21s recently and has enjoyed a run of games for the Development Squad since.

“I came on for the last half-hour against Chelsea. I thought it was mad, the step up in physicality between U16s and U21s. Technically, I think I’ve got it in me and I thought I played well.

“Then I made my first start against Southampton away. I knew my preparation had to be perfect. In the first half I thought I did well getting on the ball, in the second half it was a little bit more end to end but it was a good experience.”

Reflecting on a busy few months, Powell continued: “Signing my contract was a very special day for me. It was out on the pitch at Upton Park, the fans were clapping as soon as walked out, so it was very special. It wasn’t a bad game either was it, beating Everton 9-8 on penalties.

“Now, I just to play football for the club that’s in my heart.”