Academy of Football's Akinola turns pro

Highly rated defender Olatunji Akinola has signed a professional contract with the club
West Ham United are delighted to announce highly rated defender Olatunji Akinola has signed a professional contract with the club.

The 17-year-old is widely regarded as one of the most promising players coming through the ranks at the prestigious Academy of Football.

Having signed a three year contract, a delighted Akinola said: “It's a great feeling for me and my family, a very proud day. Its feels great that the club have shown faith in me to give me another three years to help develop myself as a footballer.

“I've been here since I was eight so it's been nine years of hard work. But I'm playing football for a top Premier League academy so I’m definitely enjoying it as well.”

This season, Akinola established himself as a regular in the U18 side which qualified for the elite group of the Play Offs.

Making 21 starts, he also scored twice, in what has been another year of steady progress for the youngster.

He continued: “I have known for a while know but my instant reaction was pleasantly surprised. It’s a big thing as all my family are football fans as well so we were all celebrating when we found out.

“I feel this has been a strong season for me particularly. I have put in some solid performances in the 18's and worked to get some opportunities in the U21s which I just want to carry on next season.

“Ending the season with some successful tours is also nice; getting to the final in Zurich and Holland.”
Having got another successful year under his belt, the ball-playing centre-back is currently in Hong Kong preparing for the Soccer Sevens tournament.

Now with at least three more years to look forward to, Akinola is daring to dream big: “Making my first team debut at the new stadium would be a beautiful moment and nice reward for the work I have put in. 

“That would be the beginning of many hopes and dreams I plan to achieve with West Ham. The club is going forwards and i want to go forwards with all the Hammers fans! 

 “The club is really on the up right now with the new stadium, new exciting players and potential Europa League football. It's great for us youngsters to be surrounded by this as it gives us motivation to go on and succeed at this great club.”