Playing for the club you support, hearing your name being sung from the stands you once sat in by adoring fans of a crowd you were once part of; it’s just a distant dream for many.
Perhaps not so distant for defender and lifelong Hammer Ben Wells, however. It could, in fact, soon become a reality.
“Being a season ticket holder for ten years, growing up coming to watch West Ham with my Dad and brother – it’s been amazing doing all that as a player for the Club as well,” the 16-year-old says ahead of one of the most important seasons in the Hammers’ history.
“To make it as a first team player here…I wouldn’t be able to put it into words. It would mean everything. It’s an incredible time moving into the new Stadium at the moment, too. To just be a small part of it is amazing.”
Since joining the Club as a six-year-old, Ben knows only the West Ham way, and that reflects in his playing style on the pitch.
Composed on the ball and a great passer from the back, the left-footed youngster also loves a tackle and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line.
“I’m trying to improve on my aggression, but it’s getting better,” he continues, analysing his own game. “When I was growing up, I loved watching Rio Ferdinand, and he was great at that.
“I try and model my game on Rio. His style of play; he just had everything. His passing was excellent, he could come out from the back and he was aggressive. I looked up to him.
“Now, in the Hammers team, I’d say I’m most like our new signing, Havard Nordtveit. He looks comfortable on the ball and likes those big diagonal passes, as do I!”
Off the pitch, though, Ben knows his lifestyle choices are just as important as those decisions made on the field if he is to succeed as a footballer.
“You have to make a lot of sacrifices,” he admits. “It’s so hard to be a player these days. You see your mates going out and having fun, but you can’t join them. I stay in, eat healthily and get lots of rest.
“I don’t find it difficult though, because I’m totally dedicated and committed to being a player. Maybe I’ve got that extra drive because I’m a Hammer! I’ll do anything to achieve my goals and ambitions.”
And Ben knows that every right choice made – on and off the pitch – edges him closer to fulfilling his dream.