Terry Westley will return to Kenilworth Road for the first time in 22 years when West Ham United take on Luton Town in the first knockout-round of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday.
Westley joined the Bedfordshire club as a Youth Coach before he became First Team manager in the Spring of 1995. Back then, as he is now, Westley was responsible for the development of a number of young players from the academy setup.
Former West Ham and England defender Matthew Upson is one of a long line of players who benefitted from the guidance and coaching of Westley during their teenage years. And 22 years on, Westley still has fond memories of his time at Luton Town.
“I spent many years at Luton as the coach and then also as former manager before I left,” he explained.
“It’s club that were in the Championship under David Pleat when I joined as the Youth Coach, we had a wonderful time in terms of the players we produced who went on and played at the highest level.”
After defeat to Wycombe Wanderers last week, West Ham’s U21s finished second in their Checkatrade Trophy South group and, despite still qualifying, missed out on a visit to Forest Green in this next round. Instead, the trip to Kenilworth Road is their reward.
Westley is extremely proud of his side for achieving qualification from the group stages, and despite a difficult November which saw the Hammers fall to four successive defeats, he is excited by the challenge of taking on another Football League opponent.
“It’ll be an interesting game, they’re top of League Two so it will be tough but that is the level these lads want to be competing at.
“I’m looking forward to going back and I hope the players look forward to going there and putting on a spirited display.”
With this the first time the two clubs have met at any level since March 1994, it will be the only opportunity many of the ex-Academy players will have had to play against their former club.
“There will be a few of our former lads playing, Dan Potts, Olly Lee and Elliot Lee," Westley said.
“It is not just because of my connection with the club, but there’ll be an edge to the game in terms of the West Ham connection too.
"Everyone's really looking forward to the tie and hopefully we can come out on top and progress to the next round in a tournament we have taken seriously this season."
Westley worked closely with forward Elliot Lee from 2014-2016 while his brother Olly, Dan Potts, Pelly Ruddock and Marek Stech are all ex-Hammers from before Westley joined the club.
Hammers supporters who want to support the U21s on Tuesday can purchase tickets in advance by calling 01582 416 976. Away fans should request tickets in the Oak Road Stand.
Tickets will also be available to purchase on the night of the game from the Oak Road turnstiles and they are priced at £5 and £1 for adults and concessions respectively.