Lifelong Hammer Amadou Diallo was trying to take the positives out of West Ham United’s FA Youth Cup third-round defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 15-year-old winger produced an electric performance at Chigwell Construction Stadium on Monday, scoring the Irons’ goal and testing Seagulls goalkeeper Rico Rees and his defenders with his searing pace, ability to dribble at speed and shoot powerfully with either foot.
However, despite going ahead within six minutes and dominating the first half, West Ham relinquished control of the tie and allowed Brighton to equalise in the second half and ultimately progress to the fourth round by winning a penalty shootout.
“The boys worked hard and I thought we should have wrapped up the game in the first 45 minutes, but it went to penalties and we lost,” Diallo lamented. “Hopefully we can do better in the Youth Cup next year.”
I just think you have to be positive in everything you do and I try to go forward and work hard for the team
While Diallo was unhappy to end up on the losing side, the schoolboy was rightly proud of his own performance, which forced Brighton coach Mark Beard to make a defensive switch to spare right-back Ayo Tanimowo further punishment.
After netting his fourth goal in his last three appearances for the U18s, the left winger remained a threat throughout before being replaced in extra-time, having been struck down with cramp.
“I thought I had a good game and my goal was a good goal, but their goalkeeper pulled off a good save from my left-foot shot after that,” he observed. “Overall, I thought I had a very good game. I’m in good form at the moment so I just want to keep playing well and helping the team get some wins.
“It’s all about confidence, really. I just think you have to be positive in everything you do and I try to go forward and work hard for the team.”
Born in the capital of the West African country of Guinea, Conakry, in February 1993, Diallo moved to east London as a child and quickly fell in love with his local football team, joining the Hammers at the age of ten.
“I’m from Custom House and have been living here for quite a long time,” said the teenager, who attended Brampton Manor Academy. “I always used to watch the games at Upton Park as I used to live on Boundary Road, so I grew up watching the club and I love the club.”
Citing Neymar, Lionel Messi, Raheem Sterling and Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi as his major influences, Diallo is an elusive player whose low centre of gravity, change of direction skills, acceleration and exceptional close control at speed make him a nightmare for opposition defenders.
So highly is he thought of that the schoolboy has already established himself in the U18s and, on 13 November, earned him an U23 debut as a substitute in the Premier League International Cup tie with Croatians Dinamo Zagreb.
“I have got one appearance for the Under-23s this season and hopefully I will get some more by the end of the season,” said Diallo, who paid tribute to the support he receives from his father, older cousin and two brothers.
“We’ve got some very good wingers in the first team like Felipe Anderson, who played really well in a very good win at Newcastle on Saturday, and I like to watch them and learn from them.
“Hopefully I can keep progressing and one day I’ll be training and playing alongside them.”