Amadou Diallo: U23s refused to go under and dug in
Three points that move them closer to escaping relegation from Premier League 2 Division 1, three sensational goals, a spirited fightback from 2-0 down to seal a last-gasp win in injury time, and a memorable performance and victory on the whole.
There were multitudinous reasons for West Ham United U23s to celebrate following their 3-2 win over Manchester United U23s at Leigh Sports Village on Friday night.
Ranking high among them was the return to U23s action for Amadou Diallo, the 18-year-old forward whose first appearance in Premier League 2 this season has been long overdue.
The England youth international has been ruled out for much of the season after suffering injuries which required two bouts of surgery, making his return to competitive action in Claret and Blue in the U18s’ win over Leicester City last month.
Having scored three goals in ten appearances for West Ham’s U23s side last season, signing his first professional contract in the process, Diallo was reintroduced at development squad level as a 61st-minute substitute against Manchester United - a first U23s appearance in 13 months.
At the time he came on, the Hammers were trailing 2-1, with Mipo Odubeko going on to complete a hat-trick of fine goals in the final minute of added time.
For Diallo, there was the dual delight of not only returning to action for the U23s – but doing so having made a significant impact in a dramatic win, threatening throughout his time on the pitch.
“It’s good to be back in the squad helping the boys,” Diallo beamed at full-time. “We didn’t go under after we conceded the second goal.
“The boys dug in at 2-0 down and came back to win. Well played for Mipo for getting the hat-trick today – he played really well. I thought everyone played well and played as a team.
“It feels good to be back. It’s my first game for them this season and it’s been good.
“Hopefully I’ll get many more appearances this season – I just need to keep helping them fight to finish outside of the relegation zone.”
The result extended the young Hammers’ recent positive run of form – eight points from their last four Premier League 2 games lifting them to the very verge of the relegation zone, in which they sit now only on goal difference.
Now I’m back, I’m looking forward to helping out, working hard for the team, doing my job, getting goals and assists, and seeing how we do
Diallo continued: “The coach has been saying we’ve been working hard and are in a run of good form. I think we deserved it because everyone showed what we can do.
“We worked hard for each other and worked hard for the team and I think we deserved the three points tonight.
“Now I’m back, I’m looking forward to helping out, working hard for the team, doing my job, getting goals and assists, and seeing how we do.”
Diallo also took the time to pay tribute to the Academy of Football’s medical staff for their assistance in his recovery, which he maturely views as part of his journey of development as a footballer.
He explained: “I’m happy to play again, and thanks to the medical staff at the Club for that – they’ve done really well for me.
“Obviously I’ve had two surgeries this season and it’s been really difficult, but I now know how to deal with my injuries and I can see them as a positive, to be fair.”
As for his next fixture, Diallo could well return to the U18s set-up to take part in their FA Youth Cup fifth-round tie against Arsenal at Rush Green Stadium on Friday, as he did in the 5-0 fourth-round win against Norwich.
Diallo admitted: “It’s a big game. Everyone’s pumped for it.
“We’re going to go into the game, play properly, work hard for the team, hopefully get a win and, if we can, get through to the next round.”