Halajko: West Ham United has always given youth an opportunity
New West Ham United U23s Lead Coach Dmitri Halajko says the Club’s impressive record for youth development made joining the Irons an easy decision.
Halajko joined the Hammers Academy from Leicester City last week to complete the senior coaching team structure for the Under-23 and Under-18s at West Ham. The 39-year-old will work alongside Irons legend Steve Potts in working with the youngsters aiming to make the step up into Manuel Pellegrini’s first-team squad.
West Ham’s reputation for developing high-quality youngsters at the famous Academy is well-known by Halajko, who is excited by the prospect of working at Chadwell Heath for the Irons.
“I’m really excited,” Halajko told whufc.com. “West Ham United is a massive club, a training ground based in Essex – where I am originally from – and a fantastic tradition in youth development. There are not many clubs in the country who have a better record when it comes to developing young players.
“For me, that was a real big factor. You go through the last three Academy managers, whether it is Tony Carr, Terry Westley and now Ricky Martin, all have a record of producing top-class players. West Ham has always been a club that encourages and gives youth an opportunity.
“It’s an honour to be part of a top-class Academy at a club that places such importance on bringing homegrown players through to the first team.”
There are not many clubs in the country who have a better record when it comes to developing young players than West Ham.
Having grown up in Colchester, Halajko spent his youth around West Ham United and says messages have come his way in abundance since his appointment was confirmed.
He continued: “I’m from Colchester originally. I spent the first 25-30 years of my life in Essex, as a kid I travelled into watched West Ham at times as they were obviously the nearest big club.
“Obviously I have lots of family and friends who are Hammers fans – which has meant lots of calls and messages recently!”
With over two decades of experience, Hajalko understands the needs and requirements of young, professional footballers and says the key is figuring out what each individual requires rather than adopting a group approach.
The U23s Lead Coach says that this style will give West Ham youngsters the best chance of becoming the Hammers stars of tomorrow.
Hajalko added: “I was at Colchester United for around 10 years, then spent six years with Norwich, before two and a half years at Leicester. In between, I have also worked at the FA, involved in coach education work.
“As my career has progressed, I’ve tried to increase my knowledge and skills with youth development beyond just coaching on the pitch. There has to be an individual focus with young players, on and off the pitch, which hopefully enhances their strengths and improves any shortfalls they may have.
“It isn’t a one-size-fits-all package in Academy football now – it has to be a bespoke programme for each player, to ensure that you give them the very best chance of realising their potential and fitting into the senior squad, based on what the first team manager is looking for.”