The rising star currently working wonders in West Ham’s shadows

At just £7m, Michail Antonio looks an absolute bargain for West Ham now.

When the London boy joined The Hammers on the final day of last summer’s transfer window, few really knew how good he was.

It was mentioned that he had been a decent player for Nottingham Forest, but signing the player was a bit of a surprise and maybe more a second string talent than first team.

It certainly took a while for Antonio to get his chance as loanee Victor Moses impressed at the beginning of the season. At a time when Moses was injured, Bilic called upon the former Forest man to deputise and he ended up doing way more than anyone expected.

They say that in life, if you get your chance you should take it – and Antonio did just that.

Firmly now a fans favourite for his gutsy, strong, pacy and sound performances, Antonio cannot be too far from the England national set-up and it’s all thanks to Slaven Bilic.

The manager just seems to get the best out of his players and Antonio is one example.

However, Antonio’s talents, work rate and team play have largely been overshadowed by several other teammates, including the commanding role played by Mark Noble – who should have gone to France – the inspirational and wonderful talent that is Dimitri Payet and the impressive Manuel Lanzini, which has meant that Antonio has been pushed back into the shadows somewhat.

It is good to see that despite the media frenzy over Payet and the usual media headlines for West Ham overall, that the club has not forgotten the man that made such an impact in his first season at the club and also in the Premier League.

Rewarded for his sheer hard work, Antonio signed a new four year deal this month that keeps him in the claret and blue until 2020.

As reported on the club’s official website, Antonio said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract.

“I am happy that the manager and the chairman have showed their belief in me to give me a new deal.

“I have always believed in my own ability and when I am given the opportunity I will take it and hopefully I have showed that. I had to be patient when I first arrived, but once I got the chance I never looked back and hopefully I can now push on and do even better than what I did last season.”

Few could forget his memorable celebrations, which included the Homer Simpson and Carlton dances which saw him become a fan favourite at the east London club.

The one-time Tooting & Mitcham man showed his versatility by filling in at right back for a time, as well as excelling in his favoured right-wing position, as he successfully made the transition to top-flight football.

His nine goals in thirty two appearances helped West Ham to a record breaking season and now the player can look forward to playing in a giant of a stadium with an ambitious club heading for Europe, and who knows – maybe personal international recognition.

And who would deny him that?

 


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