Filed: Monday, 3rd December 2012
By: Willis Jamieson
Last Saturday at the Academy in Little Heath, 18-year-old first year professional Kieran Sadlier showed why he is so highly thought of by helping the under 18's come from behind to beat fellow National Group 1 rivals Norwich City.
Sadlier scored twice as the young Hammers won 3-2; Willis Jamieson caught up with Kieran after the game to get his view on his career so far - and his goals for the future...
WJ: Kieran: When did you first become interested in football?
KS: I've always loved it. When we moved from Haywards Heath to near Cambridge I have memories of playing football with my dad in the park when I was about seven. We've always enjoyed watching lots of football.
WJ: You were originally at Cambridge United's Academy; how did that come about?
KS: I was in an under nine's summer tournament and a scout from Cambridge noticed me. We had a really successful team and beat a lot of the big teams. When the Cambridge Academy closed down, a lot of players from our team went on to other professional clubs.
WJ: Jack Collison also joined us when the Cambridge Academy closed down, didn't he?
KS: Yeah; I used to finish my game on a Saturday morning and then go over with my dad to watch the end of his game. Then we both ended up here.
WJ: How did the move to West Ham come about?
KS: I went on trial at a number of clubs but my dad thought that West Ham had a good Academy so he wrote to them. I came down for a trial one evening and they signed me straight away.
WJ: I see your parents at all your games, how would you say support from your family has helped your career so far?
KS: They're great, they come to all our games home and away, even abroad when I play internationals. It's good to have that support and encouragement.
WJ: What do you do on a typical day at the Academy and how do you feel you have improved since joining?
KS: 8:30am -10:00am Is college work and then we train until lunch time. In the afternoon we have a second training session or maybe gym work. I've improved a lot in the years I've been here, I've definitely got stronger and quicker.
WJ: How has Sam Allardyce coming to West Ham affected what happens at the Academy?
KS: It is probably the Development Squad that has been affected more than the Academy sides, but he is very organised. We sometimes train with the first team and mix with them at lunchtimes, which is a good experience.
WJ: How do you find living away from home at the Academy digs?
KS: I have been there for five years now; it took a bit of getting used to but I really like it now. The other players there - Kieren Bywater, Josh Cullen, Lewis Page, Ben Marlow, Nathan Mavila, Leo Chambers, Mathias Fanimo and Pelly Ruddock - are all good lads. I'm good friends with Jamie Harney, Josh and Kieran so it's good fun.
WJ: Do you have a nickname?
KS: No, not that I can think of?
WJ: So not Poppet then!?
KS: Oh no! [laughs] How did you hear about that? That's the Development squad's nickname for me.
WS: For people who haven't seen you play, how would you describe your style?
KS: I play in a forward or attacking midfielder role. I'm technical and get quite a few goals and assists. Being creative is my main strength and tackling is the weakness I need to work on most. Some people liken me to Jack Collison although I don't really compare myself to others.
WJ: You have played for the Republic of Ireland at youth level a few times. How did you enjoy that and would you ever be like Wilfred Zaha and change to England at senior level if you have the option?
KS: I'd be loyal to Ireland. I've really enjoyed it since being called up at under 15 level. We have just qualified for the Elite Stage of February's European Championships.
WJ: What are your hopes and plans for the future?
KS: This my first year of a three-year pro contract. I want to work hard, progress, hopefully earn a new contract and establish myself as a player in the first team.
WJ: We have just seen Rob Hall, Blair Turgott, Paul McCallum and Dan Potts go out on short term loans. How do you think that benefits a player and is it something you'd like to do?
KS: We played against some lower league teams in pre-season and it gives you good experience of playing against older and stronger players. I think it can really help and I'd be happy to do it to gain valuable experience.
WJ: Many players come through the Academy but never make the first team - what would you say it takes to be one that does make it?
KS: The one that works hard and does goes the extra mile. The one that listens to the experience of the coaches. You need to behave well not just on but off the pitch too.
WJ: From what I've seen you have what it takes - so when you make your first team debut, will you do another interview with me?
KS: Yeah, of course!
A big thank you to Kieran for taking the time to talk to me. You can follow Kieran on Twitter at @KieranSadlier.
Willis Jamieson may also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/WillisJamieson.