Dev Squad aiming to emulate Academy ace

Joe Cole was part of the squad that won the 1998/99 Youth Cup final
Earlier this season, one of West Ham United’s most popular sons returned to the place where it all began, the Club’s Academy of Football at Rush Green.

The former England star will never forget his breakthrough into first-team action and the chance he was given by Tony Carr when he made his way through the Club's famous Academy alongside the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard.

Cole, who played an integral part of the Hammers’ 1998/99 Youth Cup victorious team, spent the majority of this season at Coventry City was back in east London and faced the final assessment when he coached the Academy's Under 15/16's.

The 34-year-old impressed as he put the youngsters through their paces and relished the chance to pass on his vast knowledge of the game.

Cole said: “It is nerve-wracking because it is not something I am used to. I really enjoyed coaching and it has sparked something inside of me. I want to stay in the game when I finish eventually and you need to get these badges.

“Once you play for West Ham you are always part of the family and I'm sure I will be back one day in some capacity.

“It was great to see all the old faces and seeing some old friends. All the top clubs bring players through and West Ham have a good tradition of doing it and they need to keep improving.

“West Ham need to keep producing players and everyone here is doing well.”

Cole, an avid West Ham fan himself, will be hoping the current Development Squad can emulate his cup triumph from 17 years ago when they face Hull City in the BU21PL cup final at the Boleyn Ground, kick off on Monday 25 April is 7pm.