West Ham United U23s midfielder Pierre Ekwah speaks as he plays: with positivity, enthusiasm and ambition.
The 19-year-old Frenchman, a summer recruit from Chelsea, made his first competitive appearance for the development squad in their 2-1 win over the Blues on Sunday afternoon.
After a promising pre-season, Ekwah’s first appearance in Claret and Blue was delayed by illness and the need to subsequently regain his fitness, but he returned to anchor the midfield impressively against his former side at Rush Green.
And with Will Greenidge and Harrison Ashby’s goals at either side of the 90 minutes – the former with four minutes on the clock, the latter nine minutes into stoppage time – giving his team victory, Ekwah’s enthusiasm was once again evident.
“That was great,” the midfielder smiled. “That was a really good experience.
“I had a great feeling while playing and I would say it was a good game for me. Playing against Chelsea, where I came from… that was a great game for me to perform in!
“It’s a strange and great thing, playing against your friends. I was at Chelsea for a few years, so it was just crazy playing against my mates – but a good feeling in the end.”
The midfielder was pleased with how he and his teammates reacted to Sunday’s challenging circumstances, which included seeing captain Aji Alese sustain a head injury whilst bravely clearing the ball in the opening stages of the second half, which he is now recovering well from.
I think we did it for Aji, because of his injury. We did it for him and we fought for him because he’s our captain
After a lengthy stoppage for Alese’s treatment and safety to be prioritised, which resulted in the defender being stretchered off and 16 minutes of additional time at the end of the second half, Ekwah and his teammates' victory ensured their skipper could enjoy the result later on.
He smiled: “I think we all did well as a team, which is really good.
“I think we did it for Aji, because of his injury. We did it for him and we fought for him because he’s our captain. We had to do it for him.
“We had a great momentum in that second half. We had our moments and when you get your moments, you have to score, or you know the other team will. We did score in the end – we probably could’ve scored more, but I think I’ll take a 2-1 win!”
The result means that West Ham’s development squad now sit third in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table after three games played.
Moreover, Ekwah and his teammates have been able to celebrate victories in both their London derbies against Arsenal and Chelsea – two teams they drew against at home last season.
“We’ve won against Arsenal and Chelsea – two big teams, two really great academies – so I think we’re in a good position,” Ekwah smiled.
“We just need to keep going. It’s still the start of the season, so we’re still just gelling with each other. We had a great pre-season as well, so I think we just want to keep going up and up. I think we can do more – we can push more.
“Personally, I’m feeling great here. Right from the very start, everyone welcomed me with open arms and I feel like I’ve been here two years already! Just knowing everyone, everyone knowing me – it’s all good, I really like this place.”
Next up for the U23s is a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League Cup group stages this coming Friday – a competition the Hammers have not featured in since 2016/17.
Ekwah concluded: “It’s a great thing that the Premier League Cup is organised for us as U23s.
“It’s another competition to stay sharp in, a cup competition, and more games for us, so we can show how good we are as a team.
“We feel like we have a good chance against any team, even Wolves – we just need to take it, to be honest.”