Ricky Martin has spoken of his pride and delight at being appointed as West Ham United’s new Academy Manager.
Martin succeeds Terry Westley at the helm of the world-famous Academy of Football and has an impressive resume that includes more than 15 years of experience as Academy Manager at Norwich City.
The UEFA Pro Licence holder, who initially joined the Hammers as Operations and Player Development Manager in January, is excited and enthused by the challenge of taking on one of the most-illustrious jobs in the world of youth football.
“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed Academy Manager at West Ham United,” he confirmed. “It’s a great privilege and I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“If you look at the foundations here and what has happened over not just the last five years, but decades with Tony Carr, leading into Terry Westley’s time, we’ve had two fantastic Academy Managers, two iconic individuals in youth development, renowned for producing young players, so to follow in those footsteps is a big challenge but something I am looking forward to.
“It’s been great to work for the last four months with everyone at the Academy, and I am now even more excited, because I can see the talent and the potential that this Academy has, and I want to fulfil that.”
I am delighted and honoured to be appointed Academy Manager at West Ham United
Martin was a schoolboy player at West Ham before kicking off his coaching career with a youth development role at Cambridge United prior to moving to Norwich in 2001. There, he oversaw the recruitment and development of a succession of future first-team players and guided the Canaries to FA Youth Cup glory in 2013.
He takes over at the Academy of Football at an exciting time, with the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Chadwell Heath being completed at the start of April and first-team manager Manuel Pellegrini eager to blood young prospects.
“It’s a good time to join,” Martin confirmed. “Chadwell Heath mirrors the direction of the Club as a whole. We have moved into a world-class stadium and this training facility at Chadwell Heath now is light years ahead of what was here before. What we now need to do is make it work. We have a buzz-word in the coaches’ room – environment – and that is really important.
“We want to set an elite environment that enables the players to come in and really push themselves to maximize their potential. And we need the staff to do exactly the same – come in every morning, focused, and ready to maximize their own potential – and we have that environment now.
“Chadwell Heath is an iconic training ground and we wanted to bring that to life. You only have to walk around the corridors to see the numerous players who have all been here and gone on to have a career at West Ham or other top clubs.”
Martin saw four Academy graduates make their first-team debuts this season – Grady Diangana, Conor Coventry, Joe Powell and Ben Johnson – while a fifth, Declan Rice, has cemented a starting place and become a full England international, and a sixth, Mark Noble, is the Club’s captain and longest-serving player.
The new Academy Manager is hoping the first debutant of his own tenure will occur in the not too distant future.
“That success creates momentum,” he said. “Like anything in life, once you have momentum, you want to carry it on. We will be coming in for pre-season on the back of that. A doorway, a pathway, has been opened up to the first team and we now need to fulfil that.
“We need to ensure the conveyer belt continues, and we need to ensure we are pushing those players over to Rush Green to train daily with the first-team squad and be in front of the manager, Manuel Pellegrini, who has been fantastic since I have been here.
“He is really open to looking at young players in his daily training sessions and will give them opportunities throughout the season. So, we will build on that, from July 1 when the players return for pre-season training.
“The target is there, the ambition is there for them to achieve that, and we are all here to support them.”