Premier League Academies scout far and wide for the brightest international talent these days – and West Ham United are no different.
Sebastian Nebyla joined the Hammers from Slovakian club Spartaka Trnava in the summer of 2018 and, now a second-year scholar, the attacking midfielder is starting to realise his potential in Claret and Blue.
Nebyla recently took his haul to nine for the season by opening the scoring in a 3-1 U18 Premier League South victory over Aston Villa. The win kept Kevin Keen’s side fourth in the table and closed the gap on third-place Brighton & Hove Albion to just two points.
Nebyla’s output has made him the primary threat for the U18s and the 17-year-old puts his improved goalscoring ratio down to one thing in particular – hard work.
I like to play as an attacking midfielder in the No10 position because I want to create chances and score goals
“I like to think that my goalscoring form is a great reward for my work and attitude to training,” he smiled. “At the moment the team is working really well and it’s because we are trying to get better every single day.”
The Slovakia U19 international also pointed to the guidance provided by the U18s coaching staff as another reason for the young Hammers’ encouraging form.
“Both Kevin and his assistant Mark Phillips have set up some really clear team principles,” he observed. “They know exactly how they want their team to play football and so far this season it’s helped us get some good results and it’s helped me perform really well.”
Nebyla prides himself on being able to play a number of different roles in midfield, although he has excelled in a more attacking role so far this year, he is also no stranger to fulfilling his defensive duties.
“I’d describe myself as quite a versatile midfielder,” the teenager confirmed. “I like to play as an attacking midfielder in the No10 position because I want to create chances and score goals. But I’m also comfortable playing as a central midfielder or even holding midfield.
“When I’m away with Slovakia they normally play me as No8 and during my first season at West Ham I played mostly as a deep-lying midfielder protecting the back four.”
To illustrate his importance for club and country, Nebyla was also on the scoresheet for Slovakia in their recent UEFA European U19 Championship qualifying win over Cyprus.
“I really enjoyed my time away on international duty,” he confirmed. “I started two matches out of three and managed to get a goal against Cyprus.
“It’s always a great experience to represent your country and we have a very good team at that age group.”
Back at West Ham, bright performances for the U18s have led Nebyla to be named amongst the substitutes for the U23s on a number of occasions and making the step up to Premier League 2 level is certainly a target for the youngster.
“Of course, playing for the Under-23s is a goal of mine,” Nebyla continued. “I believe that if I keep working hard, I’ll be a part of the squad in the future and that’s something that I’m very eager to achieve.”
For now, though, Nebyla and his teammates have turned their immediate attention to their FA Youth Cup third-round tie against Charlton Athletic on Friday evening.
Three-times winners, the Hammers have struggled in the competition in recent seasons and this season’s scholars will be eager to end a long run of third-round exits with a win over their London rivals.
Kick-off at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium is at 7pm, with the winner travelling to Blackburn Rovers or Newport County in the fourth round.