Josh Briggs has revealed the opportunity to develop and grow at the Academy of Football was a huge factor in his decision to join West Ham United.
The 16-year-old has penned scholarship terms with the Club and says the core values of the Premier League side, and the Academy, made the decision to switch to east London from Belfast an easy one.
“It’s a great achievement to join West Ham United and I am delighted to be here,” the centre-back told whufc.com. “I’m very excited to play for this Club and this Academy, and I’m very excited for the season ahead.
“West Ham United is a great Club. It’s a traditional club with family values at the core. Everyone is very supportive of each other here, and looks out for each other. There is a high standard across the entire Club, with some exceptional players, and I’m looking forward to developing here.”
Briggs is the latest young talent to join West Ham United from Northern Ireland, following in the footsteps of fellow Academy stars Michael Forbes, Callum Marshall and Patrick Kelly, who themselves have made the move in recent seasons.
The newest Hammer is relishing his new home in east London and admits having the trio of fellow Northern Irishmen here has made the move from his lifelong home an easier one.
“I was nervous when I first came over but, once I got used to being here, it’s been great. The facilities at Chadwell Heath and Rush Green are quality. We’ve got everything we need to succeed.
“I’ve settled into the area well. I’m liking east London. Callum and Patrick have especially been helping me settle in over the last couple of weeks, which has made life a lot easier. They’re both great lads. They’re a lot of fun and they are big characters too, so it’s good to spend time with them and settle in.
“Michael Forbes is also here and I’ve spoken with him a couple of times, and trained with him once or twice. He’s a good lad and a good leader too.”
One of Northern Ireland’s brightest young talents, Briggs impressed through the age ranges at NIFL Premiership side Linfield, representing the team’s second team on a number of occasions in the 2021/22 campaign.
A week-long trial with West Ham earlier this year convinced the defender that a move to Chadwell Heath was the right decision for his career.
He continued: “I played for a team called GreenIsland for two years and then I got a move to Linfield, and played there for two years as well. I played in the U16s and progressed through the sides, played for the U18s and then the U20s.
“I got to go on a few trials and came over to visit West Ham in April. I had a really good week here and that’s what convinced me that this Club was the place for me.”
Briggs has already enjoyed unforgettable experiences in Claret and Blue, linking up with the U18s for the pre-season Zlatý Kahan Cup tournament in the Czech Republic before helping an U19s side win the Premier League Next Generation Cup, with a 4-3 win over Crystal Palace and phenomenal 8-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur.
Having been involved in Kevin Keen’s U18s squad to start the 2022/23 season, Briggs knows how high the standard is at every age range at West Ham United and is eager to impress for his new side.
He added: “The standard of football here is very high and I will need to work very hard to get into the team. That’s my first target, to earn a place in the U18s.
“Kev has helped me to develop a lot already. He’s a very experienced coach and he is going to be a great person for me to be around in the next couple of years.
“Going on from there, I want to have a good first season, get even better, and push for a place in the U21s in the future. Obviously, the overall goal is to get into the first team one day. It’s a high target, but that’s the dream.”