Briggs: I'm proud of the steps I've made at West Ham United

Josh Briggs is the latest young Irish talent to make east London his home. 

The Northern Ireland U19 centre-back has followed the likes of Patrick Kelly, Callum Marshall, Michael Forbes and Sean Moore in moving from the NIFL Premiership to sign a professional contract at Chadwell Heath in recent years. You get the feeling he won’t be the last. 

Belfast and football, of course, go hand in hand. The city loves its football. And born in the Northern Ireland capital, Briggs was no different. The young Hammer played in parks, cages and any patch of grass he could find. Alongside his mates, and younger brother Jude, his youth constantly revolved around the sport. 

“I was always playing with my mates, and my brother Jude as well,” he explained. “We used to play in the park all the time, and it’s paid off now! 

“As kids, we used to climb the fences to play in the cages a lot as well. In Belfast, that sort of football was quite rough, so I think it toughens you up as well because you’re used to getting kicked and pushed about and learning how to deal with that.” 

You want to prove you can play at that level. Hopefully, that’s what I’m going to be able to do
Josh Briggs

That early understanding of football's physical challenges has held Briggs in good stead throughout his youth career. He began his footballing journey with Greenisland FC before being spotted by Linfield - a club based in south Belfast, that plays in the NIFL Premiership, the highest level of the Northern Ireland Football League. 

Briggs then made his debut for Linfield Reserves at the age of 15, starting the Steel & Sons Cup final against Newington on Christmas Day 2021. 

“I was playing against men at 15,” the 18-year-old, who has been part of the Northern Ireland U19s and U21s squads throughout his time in east London, stated. 

“We played the first team at one point in a friendly too, which was the first time I played for Linfield. I was 15, and it was mad. I was playing against the senior team. The manager trusted me somehow!” 

Performances in south Belfast caught the eye of West Ham scouts, and in 2022 Briggs became the latest young talent to join the Hammers from Northern Ireland. 


He signed a two-year scholarship after a successful trial, and his first season couldn’t have gone much better. He was involved in a league title triumph, an FA Youth Cup win, and he scored a goal at the Emirates too. 

“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked because I was a first year,” he said. “But in my second year I have started playing more, and there have been some good performances and results. 

“The highlight from my first year was the FA Youth Cup final [5-1 win over Arsenal in May 2023]. 

“It was an unbelievable night, playing at the Emirates, but I was glad that Kevin [Keen] trusted me to come on and see the game out, and I was lucky enough to get a goal too!” 

Such performances across last season - and this - have seen Briggs rewarded with a first professional contract at West Ham. Signing on the dotted line is a huge moment and marker for any young professional, although the task now is to build on his displays for the U18s at the next level with the U21s. 

“It will be more physical,” he said when asked about making the step up. “Everyone is quicker, sharper, and the game is played at a quicker speed. It’s that next step, and you want to prove you can play at that level. Hopefully, that’s what I’m going to be able to do.”