Where are they now? West Ham’s last 10 Young Hammer of the Year winners

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West Ham midfielder Declan Rice became the first player in more than a decade to retain the club’s ‘Young Hammer of the Year’ award when he went back-to-back in 2018.

The former Chelsea academy player has kept up his good form, scoring his first goal for the Irons and earning himself a new contract, and he’ll want to emulate the longevity of 2005 winner Mark Noble.

However, those who have won the award in the interim have had mixed fortunes since their success. Here’s what the last 10 winners are up to now.

2008 – James Tomkins

Tomkins broke into the West Ham first team in the spring of 2008, thrust into action by Alan Curbishley for a tough Premier League game at Everton’s Goodison Park.

The centre-back, who joined the club aged eight, ended that season with six first-team appearances and had racked up more than 200 league games by the time he left for Crystal Palace in 2016.

Tomkins might have missed his chance to play for England, but he did at least feature for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics after helping lead West Ham back to the Premier League

2009 – Jack Collison

One of the most talented players to come through the West Ham academy this century, many will tell you Collison would have been an all-time great were it not for injury.

After suffering a dislocated kneecap during his Young Hammer of the Year season, he returned to action the following campaign only to then miss 14 months, and a fit and firing Collison may well have helped keep West Ham up in 2011.

The Welsh midfielder was able to chip in the following season, scoring crucial goals in the play-offs, but was never the same again. He left West Ham in 2014 and retired from football altogether in 2016, aged just 27.

READ: Jack Collison: I was pretty much living my life on an ice machine

2010 – Zavon Hines

Teenage striker Hines burst onto the scene at West Ham, scoring on his debut for the club towards the end of Curbishley’s reign and then thriving under Gianfranco Zola,.

A goal against Millwall the following season endeared him to fans, as did a last-gasp winner in a league meeting with Aston Villa, but that would end up being his one and only goal in the Premier League.

Hines proceeded to move down the leagues, with a personal highlight coming in an appearance for Bradford City in the 2013 League Cup final, but he was forced to retire in early 2019 due to injury.

2011 – Freddie Sears

Sears might have played – and scored – for the first time in 2008, but it was three years later that his award finally arrived.

The pacy forward was just 18 when he netted on debut against Blackburn Rovers and scored his third (and last) for the club in a 5-1 FA Cup win over Burnley during the 2010-11 relegation season.

The Essex-born player left for Colchester in 2012 before earning a move to Championship side Ipswich, for whom he has turned out more than 100 times.

2012 – Dan Potts

Another player whose career might have been different were it not for a serious injury, versatile defender Potts followed his dad Steve – a veteran of more than 500 Irons games – into the West Ham squad.

Potts the younger was just 17 when he made his debut, but his first-team future was put into jeopardy just a few months after his Young Hammer of the Year award when he suffered a nasty head injury during a Premier League game at Arsenal.

He played just three more times for the club before leaving to join Luton in 2015 and remains at the League One club to this day.

2013 – George Moncur

Moncur, the son of former West Ham midfielder John, won his award after making his debut in a League Cup win over Crewe at the age of 19.

However, he would play just once more for the club, conceding a penalty in a notorious 5-0 FA Cup reverse at Nottingham Forest, and was soon shipped out to Colchester.

He has since linked up with Potts once more at Luton, scoring four goals in his first six games for the club after joining from Barnsley.

2014 – Sam Howes

Howes is the only member of this list to have never made a West Ham first-team appearance, but the goalkeeper is still technically a Premier League player.

Just 16 when he won the award, Howes would turn out once for the Under-23s in the Football League Trophy, in a starting line-up also including current first-teamer Grady Diangana, but never made the grade in east London and eventually moved to Watford in 2017.

He is yet to make his Hornets debut and is currently out on loan at non-league Eastbourne Borough.

2015 – Reece Burke

Burke was one of the few survivors from the 5-0 defeat at Forest, breaking into the first team towards the end of Sam Allardyce’s final season in charge and starting four games at centre-back in the 2014-15 campaign.

The defender even got a taste of European football, playing against Astra Giurgiu two seasons running, but spent most of the following campaigns out on loan.

He briefly returned to West Ham under David Moyes, scoring his only goal for the club to end the resistance of Shrewsbury Town in last season’s FA Cup, but departed permanently for Hull City in a £1.5million deal last summer.

2016 – Reece Oxford

Oxford seemed like a shoo-in for the award from the moment he starred in the win at Arsenal on the opening day of the 2015-16 season.

The versatile teenager has played in central midfield and in defence, but has seen Rice jump the queue after failing to build on that debut performance when he was just 16.

Now 20, Oxford is still on West Ham’s books but has recently joined Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg on loan. He has played four minutes of Premier League football since West Ham moved into the London Stadium.

2017 & 2018 – Declan Rice

Already a bigger success story than many of the others in this list, Rice won his first award after making his Premier League debut in May 2017 and retained the title after cementing himself in the first team under Moyes.

He played every minute as West Ham secured their Premier League status with seven points from their last three games last season, and scored the winner against Arsenal to open his account in January.

Next up, we might see him line up in an England shirt for the first time.


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