Mark Robson joins Academy of Football as Under-23s Lead Coach

West Ham United are delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Robson as the Academy of Football’s Senior PDP Coach/U23s Lead Coach.

The former Hammers midfielder joins from Championship side Peterborough United, where he had served as assistant manager since August 2020, and will replace Dmitri Halajko, who is departing to take up a youth and coaching development role at the Premier League.

Prior to his spell at the Posh, Robson spent over four years at the Football Association as a National Specialist Coach, working closely with the best young English players to progress through the national team pathway into Gareth Southgate’s senior squad.

A UEFA Pro Licence holder, Upton Park-born Robson will now work closely alongside manager David Moyes’ first-team set-up and assistant U23s coach and former Hammers team-mate Steve Potts in guiding West Ham’s young professionals towards attaining their own aspirations in the game.

Robson said of his appointment: “I’m really pleased to be joining the Academy and really pleased to be back at West Ham United, my local team.

“I’ve been a supporter all my life, watching from the terraces and playing for the Club, so to have the chance to come back and be a part of the process helping our younger players on the pathway to the first team is fantastic. I’m really looking forward to the new challenge.

“The Club at this moment in time is flying. The first team are doing fantastically well and so are the U23s in Premier League 2, so to be coming back at this moment in time, I’m buzzing and can’t wait to get going.”

Academy Manager Ricky Martin added: “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Mark back to West Ham United.

“We went through a diligent recruitment process, with some really good applicants applying for the role. Mark’s connection with the Club and his vast experience, not only having a successful career as a player but also as a coach in both youth and first-team environments, as well his work with the FA in a really successful period for their youth sides, made him the standout candidate.

“Personally, I would like to thank Dmitri for his hard work. He has been a fantastic ally for me in my role as Academy Manager – he was my first appointment, and someone I’ve worked very closely with for the last two-and-a-half years. 

“Not only has he been a great servant, coach and ambassador for West Ham, he leaves the Academy in a fantastic position, with the U23s squad playing some exciting, attacking, 'West Ham Way' football, and we wish him well in his new adventures with the Premier League.

“Now, we’re really looking forward to welcoming Mark back as our U23s Lead Coach and working with him to continue our journey of developing our young players and building the Academy of Football.”

Commenting on his departure after two years with the Club, Halajko said: “I think it’s time to move my career onto a different direction. The U23s, the first team and the Club are doing extremely well, so in some ways it’s not the best time to move on, but you don’t know when these kinds of opportunities are going to come up.

“There’s been great progression over the last two-and-a-half years and I expect that to continue. I’m leaving it in a really good place and I’m leaving it with really good people, and I’ll be watching, cheering them on at every moment, hoping they continue that progress.

“I can only thank the staff so much for their hard work and the support they’ve given me from minute one. People talk about the West Ham family and that being the West Ham Way, and from day one, I’ve felt it here. It’s a really warm Football Club and it’s a Football Club that looks after people and wants you to do well, so I can only thank people for that really. It’s something very special.”

Mark Robson

Born in Upton Park and growing up in the East End, Robson is returning to his boyhood Club, for whom he made 56 appearances over two seasons.

In the 1992/93 campaign, the former midfielder played 44 of a possible 46 league games in Claret and Blue, scoring eight goals as West Ham won promotion to the Premier League a year after its formation.

As a coach, in addition to his time at the Football Association, the 52-year-old has enjoyed first-team roles at Aston Villa, Norwich City, Barnet, Peterborough, Gillingham and Charlton Athletic, as well as serving as U21s Head Coach at both Norwich and Charlton.

Robson will be in the U23s’ dug-out for the first time in the PL2 Division One clash against Manchester City U23s at Rush Green Stadium on Saturday 20 November, with the young Hammers currently a single point and place above the reigning league champions.

Everyone at West Ham United and the Academy of Football would like to welcome Mark back to the Club and wish him every success in his new role.

We would also like to thank Dmitri for his excellent work since joining the Club in 2019, and wish him all the very best for the future.