Byram enjoys 'unbelievable' debut

Sam Byram looked like a Barclays Premier League veteran as he helped West Ham United to a thrilling 2-2 draw with Manchester City
A week ago, Sam Byram was helping Leeds United to a 2-0 FA Cup third round win over Rotherham United.

Eight days later, the 22-year-old was thrown into the intensity of a Barclays Premier League clash between West Ham United and Manchester City, played in front of 35,000 noisy fans under the Boleyn Ground floodlights and a worldwide television audience.

Byram opened up against £54m man Kevin Bruyne, keeping the Belgian at arm’s length before he was replaced by £60m England international Raheem Sterling, who got nowhere against the former Leeds star.

You would not have guessed it, as Byram emerged from the substitutes’ bench to produce a performance full of poise, confidence and promise as the Hammers secured a thrilling, if ultimately a little disappointing 2-2 draw.

“To be fair, I was surprised to come on that early,” said Byram, who celebrated by meeting Hammers fan Russell Brand and former Oasis frontman and City supporter Noel Gallagher after the final whistle. “I was over the moon to be on the bench and be involved and see how they do things down here.

“When I walked out of the tunnel and saw the bubbles in the air and saw a full house with the fans cheering, it was great. Then to be thrown on, I was really happy.

“When you’ve got players like we’ve got in our team, it makes it easier, because you’ve got two or three options every time you get it and I think it really helps when you’ve got players like that.”

Byram’s chance came earlier than expected, with the No22 replacing the injured Carl Jenkinson within the opening 15 minutes.

Despite having never played a minute of Premier League football in his career, the youngster settled immediately – especially after playing a ridiculous 40-yard one-two with the sensational Dimitri Payet.

“It was obviously a massive step up. At the start of the game when I was watching, you could obviously see the speed and it was very fast.

“When you’re on the pitch it’s a different game. You try to stay calm and cool and, with the players we’ve got in our team, it makes it easier to play.

“The crowd were unbelievable. Whenever I got the ball and tried to do something, I got a cheer off them and it really does help when you’re making the step up to this level.”

Taking the emotion of the game being his debut out of the equation, was Byram disappointed not to be celebrating a victory over Manuel Pellegrini’s side?

“I think we’re a bit disappointed we didn’t win the game, considering we played very well in spells of the game,” he said. “I felt we pressurised them very well when they had the ball and we didn’t give them the respect they expected.

“I think we created some very good chances and we’re disappointed not to get the three points.”
Byram will miss next weekend’s FA Cup trip to Liverpool as he is cup-tied, but the new boy is hoping to have given manager Slaven Bilic food for thought for the remainder of the season.

“Hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I came in. I’m just trying to get my head down and work hard and do my best for the team.”