Haksabanovic: I have learned a lot in my first West Ham season

Sead Haksabanovic


Many of the Premier League’s very best talents have proved it often takes time to adapt to new surroundings, a new country, a different style of football.

Didier Drogba found things difficult to begin with before becoming a club legend at Chelsea. Dutch master Dennis Bergkamp’s situation when he first joined Arsenal was similar.

And though at such a young age Sead Haksabanovic has many years of progression ahead of him, the Montenegrin admits his maiden campaign in England has been about learning and adapting.

Signed last summer from Swedish second tier side Halmstads BK – the club which produced future West Ham United and Sweden midfielders Fredrik Ljungberg and Niklas Alexandersson – the energetic winger has by his own self-admission played fewer first-team matches than was hoped.

But, one year into life in east London, the 18-year-old believes he is much better for his experience so far.

Football is about learning and I am still young, so next season will be about improving and hopefully progressing to play more first-team football

Sead Haksabanovic

“I would at this stage have liked to play more in the first team than I have,” he says. “That was the aim when I joined and that’s what I said when I signed in August.

“But I have to look at the positive things and the reasons why. I have learned a lot. The staff here have taught me many things and I think I am a better player already than when I came here.

“Swedish football is very different. Here, it’s more physical, it’s faster and it definitely took a while to get used to some parts of the game over here.

“But football is about learning and I am still young, so next season will be about improving and hopefully progressing to play more first-team football than I have this season.”


The Montenegro midfielder featured in the Enirates FA Cup third-round replay win over Shrewsbury Town in January


Haksabanovic’s one and only start in a West Ham shirt – for the senior team – came back in September against Bolton Wanderers in a Carabao Cup tie, while he also got some minutes on the pitch more recently in an Emirates FA Cup clash at Wigan Athletic in January.

He has impressed for the Hammers’ U23s, who look on course for a top-half finish in their first season at Premier League 2 Division 1 level. And alongside the likes of Nathan Holland, Dan Kemp, Grady Diangana and Martin Samuelsen, he is just one of an exciting group of wingers hoping to burst onto the senior scene next season.

“We have a lot of great players in my position at the Academy,” he continues, “and we all learn from each other all the time; in training and in matches.

“Competition is healthy in any squad, because it pushes you to be better and to prove that you are worth a place in a team ahead of somebody else. It’s the same in the first team; there are a lot of fantastic footballers in the squad and training with them always helps me to be better.

“You learn from the coaches, from playing games, while picking up things from your teammates and the more experienced players is also a big help for any younger player.

“The short-term target is to have a really good pre-season, and then hopefully I can continue to perform to push forward and progress.”

If Haksabanovic can develop as well as the likes of Drogba and Bergkamp – and Ljungberg and Alexandersson – did as their careers in English football progressed, a big future at West Ham could be ahead of the teenager.