Luis Guilherme | The First Interview

He may be just 18, but Luis Guilherme talks, looks and carries himself like a player with years of experience under his belt.

The Brazil U20 international arrived at Rush Green training ground and introduced himself to the staff who will now work to help him settle into life in a new country at a new Club – West Ham United.

Among those he spoke to were technical director Tim Steidten, who traveled to Brazil to present the West Ham project to the prodigious attacker and his family, and new head coach Julen Lopetegui, who welcomed him into his office for an introductory meeting.

Speaking to ESPN Brazil’s London correspondent João Castelo Branco, the exciting youngster spoke with a maturity and clarity that belies his tender years, about his upbringing at Palmeiras in the city of São Paulo, about his pride at representing his country, and about his ambition to make the most of the opportunity West Ham have given him to play in the Premier League.

If things go well, we have a beautiful journey ahead
Luis Guilherme

“I’m very happy to be signing with West Ham, a Club that trusted in my work,” he confirmed. “I also want to thank the [recruitment] team, who came to Brazil, not only talked with me but also with my family. They presented the project, and both my family and I liked it. So, I'm very happy to be signing with this Club and hope to contribute as much as possible. I also hope to win titles. If things go well, we have a beautiful journey ahead.

“When they arrived [in São Paulo], they showed me the training centre and explained what they wanted from me, not just from me but involving my family as well. They were enthusiastic, and I immediately wanted to come. I started discussing it with my family and representatives. Once again, I want to thank the team. They travelled from England to Brazil, and I’m very happy to have arrived.

“[The head coach and I] already had a conversation. He showed me his project and I believe I’ll learn a lot from him. He’s coached at the national level in Spain and managed big clubs. I’ve already started talking with him since arriving in London, and there’s much to come.

“From the beginning, they presented a project focused on winning. That was crucial for my decision because I love winning titles. Who doesn’t? I’m very happy to be here, and I’m eager to represent West Ham.”

Luis Guilherme makes the Crossed Hammers sign

While the same staff he greeted so warmly at Rush Green will help him to settle in London, Luis Guilherme will also help himself by bringing his girlfriend and, initially, his parents to live with him while he gets used to the English capital.

He has also been in contact with São Paulo-born Emerson, and is looking forward to meeting the left-back, along with his Brazilian compatriots Lucas Paquetá and Luizão, when the Irons return for pre-season training in July.

“I talked to Emerson,” he confirmed. “I started following him on Instagram, and he reached out to me, offering support. Having this Brazilian support is very important for me as I’m young and have a lot to learn. It helps to have them around. Luizão and Paquetá as well. They will be a great help daily, and I hope to learn a lot from them.”

He also hopes to learn a lot from two more of his new teammates, fellow wingers Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus, who share his characteristics of speed, dribbling ability, strength, work-rate and an eye for goal.

“I followed West Ham in the Premier League, and these players are fantastic,” enthused Luis Guilherme, who named Argentina legend Lionel Messi and Brazil and Palmeiras great Rivaldo has his boyhood heroes. “They are international players from England and Ghana. It will be a healthy competition among us, and I hope to learn a lot from them to improve my game.”

Luis Guilherme with Tim Steidten

The presence of so many friendly faces will surely help the new Hammer learn quickly as he looks to make his mark, as will the fact he has been taking English lessons and already has a grasp of the language.

“I’ve been studying for six months,” he confirmed. “I don’t know many words yet, but being here at West Ham and talking with the players will also help a lot and will make it easier to learn quickly and speak fluently, so it’s important.”

When asked which phrases he had learned, Luis Guilherme’s response, in clearly spoken English, was telling: “I want to win many trophies here. I'm very happy to be here.”

Of course, having only turned 18 in February, and now moved thousands of miles to live and work in a country he had not visited prior to last week, it would not be right to expect too much, too soon, from Luis Guilherme.

At the same time, the potential the teenager showed in winning multiple titles at academy level with Palmeiras, where he was part of a star-studded youth team, and the qualities he has demonstrated since breaking into the first-team squad and winning the Brazilian Championship last season, combined with his outstanding displays for his country at age-group level, cannot fail to excite the Claret and Blue Army.

“I’m very happy to be part of that generation,” he said, reflecting on his time with the Verdão (Big Green). “I want to thank João Paulo, the academy director, who believed in my project and my football since I was eleven. Being part of that group was great, I hope to go on and achieve more. We won everything in the academy. I want to thank João Paulo again for trusting in our work.

“It’s a dream come true to represent Brazil. Every kid dreams of wearing their country’s shirt, and I’ve been fortunate to do so from a young age. I’m very happy and hope to continue representing my country, hopefully at the senior level one day.”

Luis Guilherme

If he is to fulfil that dream of playing for Brazil’s senior team, Luis Guilherme will need to first impress in a West Ham shirt in the Premier League – a competition he has watched with admiration from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean since he was a child.

“The Premier League is the best league in the world,” he observed. “The games don’t have clear favourites, and it’s fast paced. The intensity here is very high, which is important.

“Playing against the best is always crucial for growth. The Premier League is a huge challenge, with its high intensity and level of competition compared to Brazil. I hope to improve and achieve great things. I believe I’ll improve a lot here with the entire staff at West Ham, which is crucial for my development.

“We always dream, right? Since I was eleven, I had this dream, and now it’s becoming a reality. I’m very happy about it and grateful to West Ham. Let’s go for it!”

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