Dubbed the ‘Academy of Football’, West Ham United are famed for their remarkable youth setup, consistently churning out elite prospects year in, year out.
One figure who appears to be the next on the endless conveyor belt of talent is 17-year-old wonderkid, Callum Marshall, with the forward currently thriving in the Hammers’ youth ranks.
Plucked from Linfield back in January, the Northern Irishman is already making waves due to his prolific form in east London thus far, with all the signs pointing towards a player who could break into the first team sooner rather than later.
That success saw the teenager notably bag a hat-trick in a stunning comeback victory over Crystal Palace in the semi-final, before bagging four more goals in the showpiece victory over rivals Tottenham Hotspur, in what was a brutal 8-0 thrashing.
Marshall had only recently scored five goals in just four games at the Zlaty Kahan Cup in the Czech Republic at U18 level, having also scored eight goals in just 15 games at the same age group last season.
Clearly a clinical, ruthless presence, such performances are only set to eventually pique the interest of first-team boss David Moyes, with the Scotsman having the chance to unleash a talent who could well replicate the success of former Irons starlet, Joe Cole.
As exciting young talents go, the now-retired playmaker was right up as one of the most talked about prospects in the country, with both fans and media alike waiting with bated breath to finally see him in action after years of fanfare.
Upon breaking into the senior set-up at the age of just 17, the Englishman took to life in the men’s game with ease, quickly establishing himself as something of a talisman for the Hammers in the years that followed.
That importance swiftly culminated in the Paddington-born ace taking on the captain’s armband in 2003 despite still being only 21, before he was almost inevitably sold on to Chelsea soon after following the club’s relegation.
A return to the club followed almost a decade later, with that emotional homecoming a welcome reward for arguably one of the finest gem’s that the Hammers have ever produced.
Cole’s tale illustrates that throwing a youngster into the mix at such a young age isn’t always a recipe for disaster, with Moyes perhaps needing to take note and give young Marshall his chance to shine.