West Ham United boast a remarkable record with regards to their production of young talent, having helped develop a whole host of exciting prospects over the years, including the likes of Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick.
Another notable success story from the Hammers’ youth ranks is that of Frank Lampard, with the midfielder following in his father’s footsteps – Frank Lampard Sr – by progressing from academy talent to first-team regular.
For all his Chelsea connections – which has led to notable stick from Irons supporters over the years – it is easy to forget the important part that the east Londoners played in the 44-year-old’s remarkable career, having scored 33 goals and provided 18 assists in 175 games in all competitions during his time at the club.
The former England international had famously been tipped as a teenager to go “right to the very top” of the game by his uncle and former boss Harry Redknapp, with that prophecy coming true as he went on to win a plethora of major honours in a lengthy career at the elite level, while winning 106 caps for his country.
Excitingly for the London Stadium outfit, the club could well have another Lampard-esque talent on their hands in the form of 16-year-old Lewis Orford, with the teenager having caught the eye at youth team level of late.
Such has been the quality of his displays, the playmaker has only recently been included in the Guardian’s Next Gen list, placing him alongside the 20 best young talents across the Premier League, born between September 2005 and August 2006.
That inclusion saw the youngster receive a glowing assessment from journalist John Brewin, who wrote: ‘West Ham continues to be production line for midfielders and Orford, a lifelong fan, might be the latest to follow Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick. His height reminds of Rice and Carrick though he exhibits a greater turn of pace than either, with a range of passing beyond his years that has made him the Hammers’ Under-18 playmaker.’
After naming the young Englishman among that stellar list of names, Brewin then also noted the comparison to the aforementioned Lampard, writing: ‘There is something, too, of Lampard in his ability to arrive late on the scene for scoring opportunities.’
It would take some doing to be able to reach the heights of a man who scored 267 club career goals, although Orford has shown his own finishing prowess of late, scoring seven times and providing ten assists in just 31 U18 Premier League games to date, including five goal involvements in just four games so far this term.
While a role in the senior set-up may not be on the cards just yet, he could well be a player for David Moyes to keep an eye on in the coming years.