Nine months ago, Grady Diangana was relatively unknown to the majority of West Ham United supporters.
The winger had played regularly for the Hammers’ U21 and U23 sides in recent seasons, helping them gain promotion to Premier League 2 Division 1 and reach the knockout stages of the EFL Trophy.
Diangana’s undoubted talent and promise had been clear since he arrived at the Academy of Football at the age of 12, but few outside the Club would have predicted the Londoner’s rise to prominence this season.
However, when the opportunity arose for the 21-year-old to stake his claim for a regular role in Manuel Pellegrini’s first-team squad, he took it, scoring twice on his debut in an EFL Cup demolition of Macclesfield Town, before producing a succession of eye-catching, hard-working Premier League appearances.
The quietly-spoken, determined Diangana is proud of how his season has panned out, but is not about to take anything for granted, instead insisting he wants to make an even bigger impact in 2019/20.
I got given the opportunity, I’ve done my best and stayed in and around [the first-team squad], so I’m happy
“As soon as we came out for [the lap of thanks after Saturday’s 3-0 win over Southampton at London Stadium] I was thinking ‘what a season this has been for me’,” he said. “I’m truly blessed.
“I got given the opportunity, I’ve done my best and stayed in and around [the first-team squad], so I’m happy.
“It (Saturday’s win) shows that the team is growing every game and the mentality is getting stronger and the style of play is coming along more and more, so hopefully there is more to come next season.”
For Diangana himself, to score his first senior goals and record his first senior assist, and test himself against some of the best full-backs in the world, there was a justified feeling of achievement following West Ham’s final home game of the season.
“When I go out there I just try to do my best and try to show what I can do and how I can help the team, no matter who I am playing against,” confirmed the No45, who gave England international and UEFA Champions League winner Ryan Bertrand a stern test on Saturday. “Whoever I am playing against, I try to show the same mentality.
“I want to come back stronger and make it harder for the top players to keep their places, so hopefully I can do that.
“I’m looking forward to the future.”