West Ham youngster Armstrong Okoflex hails 'special day' after scoring on Celtic return
Armstrong Okoflex was all smiles after marking his return to Celtic with his first senior goal for West Ham United.
The 19-year-old, who joined the Hammers from the Scottish Premiership runners-up in June, netted with a low left-foot shot to complete an emphatic 6-2 victory that also featured two Michail Antonio goals, a Mark Noble penalty and superb second-half strikes from Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen.
Okoflex’s big moment was all the sweeter as it came at a ground where he made his first-team debut for Celtic in January this year, and minutes after his arrival as a substitute had been playfully jeered by a small section of the 18,500 home fans inside Parkhead.
Speaking to West Ham TV, the winger’s pride shone through as he recalled his big moment and stated his desire to work hard for further first-team opportunities.
It was always special to come and play here and I just happened to get on the scoresheet and that’s something I’ve been working on
“It was a brilliant moment for me,” he confirmed. “I’ve worked hard this pre-season, I got gifted this opportunity which I’m grateful and I was just really excited to come on and I was happy with the goal.
“I think I found out about the [Celtic] fixture after I signed, but once I saw the fixture I was like ‘I need to make the squad!’ so I was happy I made the squad and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
“Today was a special day. In Scotland, the [COVID] rules are still tough, so they only had 18,000 when they usually have 60,000 here. It was always special to come and play here and I just happened to get on the scoresheet and that’s something I’ve been working on, so it’s just nice to score.”
While he was signed to start his West Ham career in the U23s, with a number of senior players away on post-international duty breaks, Okoflex has spent the majority of the month with David Moyes’ first-team squad.
The teenager went to St Andrews and has featured in pre-season matches at Leyton Orient, Reading and now Celtic, and while he knows his immediate future is at Academy level, he will take advantage of training with the first-team squad and work hard for further opportunities.
“The likes of Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen, I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can, especially Benrahma because of the way he dribbles with the ball and is creative,” he explained. “I’m happy to be here around the first team whenever I can.
“Obviously right now players are away, so I’m just happy and grateful the gaffer has given me the opportunity with the first team and all I can do is make the most of it and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“I signed to be a 23s player or push for the first team, so I’ll start with the 23s and work hard and I have to keep going. I’m just enjoying being here playing for this football club. That’s why I came, because I didn’t play too much football before I came here. I’ve got another game with the 23s on Monday, so I’m just excited to be here.”