Academy Spotlight: Joseph Anang
A jovial character between the posts at the Academy of Football, meet 20-year-old 'keeper Joseph Anang - in his words.
The Ghana-born goalie featured in a handful of first-team matchday squads throughout 2019/20, while also impressing in Premier League 2 Division 2 as the unbeaten Irons' U23s won their league and sealed promotion.
The first football team that I remember playing for was back in Ghana and they were called Danbort FC. I joined them when I was about 12 and played for them for three seasons before I moved over to the UK and joined West Ham United.
I’m the only one in my family who really plays football, but my Mum and my brothers have been so supportive of me. They’ve always told me to ‘go for it’ and reminded me to keep working hard – you can never predict what will happen in the future.
It’s funny actually because I haven’t always been a goalkeeper. When I first started at nine or ten, I played centre-back because of my height and I wasn’t very good at all! Then I went to a football session with my cousin when I was eleven and the coach asked, ‘Where do you play?’ I said goalkeeper and have played there ever since – it was a good decision!
In terms of challenges as a young footballer, I’ve been very lucky to not have any bad injuries, but you have to be patient for opportunities as a goalkeeper. I would love to play in the first team one day and it looks difficult, but you have to trust the process and keep working hard, and just see what happens in the future.
I used to watch a lot of Premier League goalkeepers and I studied Edwin van der Sar as a young goalkeeper because, in Ghana, I watched a lot of Manchester United.
I watched him play a lot, but it was in the 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea that Van der Sar saved Nicolas Anelka's penalty in sudden death which won the trophy. That was the goalkeeping display I remember the best.
Having said that, that was when I was in Ghana – when I arrived at West Ham, I knew this was the Club for me!
We’re all a tight-knit bunch, but my closest friend in the Under-23s has to be Olatunji Akinola. He just works hard all the time, which is what I always try and do – we’re quite similar.
I know a few of my teammates have said I’m the funniest in the squad, but it’s not me! Dan Kemp can be a little bit crazy – and Joe Powell while he was here was next-level!
In terms of the player who’s got the most natural talent, meanwhile, I always try and be confident – so I’ve got to say myself!
FIFA, Films & Food
I never played FIFA! In Ghana, I couldn’t really afford video games – I had to go to the arcade, and that could be expensive, so I didn’t want to pay. I watch people play games, but I’ve never played them myself.
In my free time, I like to listen to music all day – smashing it loud! My favourite music is from Ghana, but at the moment, I prefer to listen to Jamaican music.
My favourite song right now is Brik Pan Brik, by a Jamaican reggae artist called Skillibeng. It just talks about lifestyle, stacking things up. I also listen to a lot of drill music artists like M24. I’m a big fan of Lil Baby too.
In terms of TV series, I watched Kevin Hart on Netflix. That was hilarious, really good.
My favourite films are usually Chinese action movies! Three weeks ago, I watched this one called Return to the 36th Chamber; I just love the fights!
In Ghana, my favourite food is called Waakye – it’s kind of like rice and peas, but it’s different. The sauce you have with it is really nice.