Still, people claim size matters in football. Still, Dan Kemp refuses to listen.
Once respected views, which all but eliminated a smaller player’s opportunities to play professional football, are now being discredited all around the world. Dan Kemp wants to help do just that.
“I love watching Barcelona, for obvious reasons,” the winger explains, quite clearly referring to – perhaps – the world’s greatest ever player. “Lionel Messi is by far my favourite player in the world.
“Like me, he’s small, and his footwork is incredible. Some of the football Barca play is amazing, and I try and model my game on Messi.”
Although not a rare statement to hear from a young footballer these days, there are startling similarities between the Argentine’s brilliance and Kemp’s growing all-round game.
Both slight, left-footed forwards who look to go forward at every opportunity, there isn’t a better player for the 17-year-old to look up to.
“It’s good to watch them, but I love watching Chelsea, too,” continues the teenager, who was with the Blues before his move to east London. “Eden Hazard is also a player I look up to and try and emulate.
“I always analyse his game. I do like to watch football matches and think after: how can I do that on the pitch? It’s about learning. There aren’t too many other sports that capture my imagination.”
Kemp – who became a young Hammer in November of last year – recognises his smaller, and perhaps weaker, frame but does not see it as a disadvantage.
“Sometimes I can turn players more quickly and use my low centre of gravity to use my height as a positive. I’ve got to be smart with it, too. It’s is about dealing with what you have and being clever.
“I’ve always got to be careful not to have a fight on the pitch, though – that’s only going one way!”
Though still just 17, Kemp has broken into the Development Squad’s side on a number of occasions. Travelling to Holland with Terry Westley’s men this summer, the winger has impressed and wants to continue in a similar vein of form.
“By the end of this season, I want to be a regular in the U21s. Scoring and assisting goals for the U18s will be important for me to do that.
“If I can also train with the first team a bit more and make an impression on Slaven, that would be great. I just want to train and work hard every single day and enjoy my football.”