Few young players in the Football League have enjoyed better seasons so far than Grady Diangana.
The West Ham United loanee has scored four goals and assisted four more in just 14 Championship appearances for West Bromwich Albion.
Still just 21, Diangana has followed up a breakthrough 2018/19 campaign with a series of impressive displays for Slaven Bilic’s Baggies, who went into the international break top of the table.
The winger, who is currently with the England U21 squad preparing for Friday’s UEFA European U21 Championship Group C qualifier in Albania, is enjoying his football and hopes to bring everything he is learning at The Hawthorns back to east London next season...
Grady, how has life been at West Bromwich Albion under Slaven Bilic?
“For me it was amazing. He gave me a call and explained to me his vision and how he wanted his team to set up, and how he wanted us to play, and it just started from there. When I went there, it was very welcoming. He's helped me to develop my game and for me, he was very important in my decision.”
Did you work with Slaven during his time as West Ham United manager?
“At the time I was back and forth (between the Academy and first team) so I trained a few times with them but I wasn't really picked out. I was still young so it's understandable. I think he treats everyone the same and gives everyone respect. He doesn't pick one out more than any other, he's a good person.”
You have had a lot of praise since breaking through in September 2018, so how have you kept your feet on the ground? Have you followed Declan Rice’s example?
“I've always been someone who's grounded, and I don't let things get to my head. Playing with Declan and seeing where he's got to and how he's got there and the things he's had to do to get there has helped me develop as a player. Hopefully I can be just as good as him.”
Manuel Pellegrini said recently that he expects you to remain with West Brom for the whole season. What are your thoughts about the future?
“I definitely want to make it at West Ham, long term. I saw an interview Pellegrini did and he said he'd like me to get 40 games under my belt with West Brom and he's happy with the way I've been performing, so I'm happy here and I want to keep playing football. For me personally, I realised there was a lot of competition in the West Ham team, a lot of big players. I'm at the stage of my career where I just want to play games and show the world what I can do. For me to improve as well, I need to be playing so I really wanted to just play football.”