Jamal Baptiste: I'm over the moon to make my debut
Saturday's Emirates FA Cup fourth round victory over Doncaster Rovers was a proud day for the West Ham United Academy.
David Moyes' men ended their 4-0 win with five Academy products on the pitch, including three who made their debuts as second half substitutes.
One of those young men making their Claret & Blue senior bow was 17-year-old defender Jamal Baptiste, and his broad smile when interviewed by West Ham TV spoke of his pride at the achievement.
"I’m over the moon," he confirmed. "It’s what I wanted. I’ve been working hard for the Under-23s and I got my opportunity today so I took it.
"It’s a big achievement to have been playing in the FA Youth Cup before Christmas and gone on to play in the FA Cup now
"I just want to thank all my family, all my coaches at West Ham, just everyone that has helped me to get here.
"Everything has been going upwards at the moment. I want to keep working hard and keep going in the right direction."
Baptiste's debut, coming off the bench to replace Ryan Fredericks with seven minutes remaining, marks swift progress for the Hammers youngster, who has already made 17 Premier League 2 appearances for the Club's Under-23 side, despite his tender years.
He also featured for Moyes' side in a pre-season victory at Wycombe Wanderers in August and, having experienced a taste of senior action, is keen for more.
"I feel like I’m learning every day, and every day I train with the first team I learn something new," he said. "I’m gradually getting better and better and showing it on the pitch.
"Angelo Ogbonna is a big idol to me. He’s really good, a nice character and really good on the pitch.
"I just want to keep working hard to stay around the first team, and maybe make my debut in the Premier League one day.
Baptiste was especially pleased to share the moment with his Under-23s colleagues Nathan Trott and Oladapo Afolayan, who also came off the bench to debut on Saturday.
The day was especially sweet for striker Afolayan, who added late gloss to the Hammers' victory with their fourth goal.
"I’m really proud for Nath and Daps, for Daps to get the goal too," Baptiste added, "We’ve been playing all together for the Under-23s, so it’s great to do it for the first team as well."