West Ham’s youth system is world renowned; it has nurtured some of England’s greatest players, both past and present. The current squad contains a number of graduates from the academy including Jack Collison and James Tompkins. One of the most exciting prospects to have come through in recent years is the young winger Junior Stanislas who turns 20 tomorrow.
Stanislas was given his opportunity last season after impressing Zola during a loan spell at Southend United and then during training. The disappointing form of Savio and sale of Craig Bellamy also contributed to Stanislas’ accelerated introduction into the first team. He performed admirable in his first start for the club and managed to get himself on the score-sheet. He also impressed in the game against Middlesbrough where he once again scored an important goal in a game that West Ham won 2-1.
Blessed with great pace, Stanislas is a great prospect for the future; he is already a regular in the match-day squad and continues to impress when given the opportunity. His shooting from long range is always a threat and he is something of a set-piece specialist; Stanislas is already trusted to take West Ham’s corner kicks when he plays. His two goals against Millwall in the Carling Cup were overshadowed by the crowd trouble but that should not take away from his performance; he showed great composure to score twice in a high-pressure game. He came under criticism for the manner in which he celebrated his goals but at his age it should go down as a learning experience.
Stanislas is slowly adding power to his game to go with his pace; his physical attributes and natural ability on the ball mark him out as a possible star of the future. Injuries to the likes of Keiron Dyer and Luis Boa Morte have opened the door for the young England under-21 international to make a real impact this season. Stanislas recently signed a new contract that will keep at the club till 2013; a wise move on the part of the Hammers as the big clubs will be monitoring the progress of the young starlet. He shows no fear when thrust into important Premier League matches and this belief in his own ability will serve him well. In Gianfranco Zola, Stanislas has the greatest mentor he could ask for as the Italian remains one of the greatest attackers to have played in the Premier League. If Stanislas can continue to learn from Zola, West Ham may well have a future star in their midst.