West Ham United has long been a conveyer belt for producing fine English talent; Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Sir Trevor Brooking, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Mark Noble are just some of the names on the prestigious list of players that West Ham have produced. And one more name may join them. Step forward Reece Oxford. Oxford is a centre back that has been at the club since U13 level and clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have been tracking the youngsters progress. Much is hoped and expected of Oxford, who is thought to be the “next Rio Ferdinand, in East London – so much so that he was rewarded with a place on the bench in the League Cup encounter against Sheffield United.
Oxford, 15, is something special. Despite not turning 16 until December he regularly plays above his age group, making seven appearances (all starts) so far in the U21 Premier League for West Ham. What perhaps is even more astounding for someone of such a tender age is that he captained West Ham’s U21 side to a 2-1 victory at home to Jong PSV. To give you an idea of how much of an achievement this is, Jong PSV play in the Eerste Divisie (the second tier in Dutch football) and featured Dutch international Stijn Schaars in their bout with the Hammers. Young Reece is also no stranger to international duty either playing for both England U16’s and U17’s, captaining the latter. All these captaincies has led Academy Director Terry Westley to say “He’s captain on merit and I thought he did excellently tonight. He represents the club whenever he plays and we are trying to accelerate his learning curve,” and also labelling Oxford a “leader of people”.
Oxford is a centre back with a terrific distribution and his intelligence and reading of the game is something you’d expect to find in a 25 year old, not 15. The videos on his Instagram page show a young man who is it afraid to use a bit of flair to beat his opponent whilst also possessing a superb first touch. All this rolled into one makes the 6ft 3in defender a force to be reckoned with.
So, what exactly is the situation with Reece Oxford? It’s no secret that the top clubs in England are tracking his progress, with scouts regularly attending U21 matches. This, of course, makes it all the more difficult to keep hold of Oxford. Sam Allardyce himself saying “I believe 100 per cent that his progression here would be far greater than if he moved to a bigger club because he would be getting in our first team much quicker than anywhere else.” Due to Oxford’s age he cannot sign a professional contract yet as he is not 17, however a pre-contract offer is on the table. Again, yet to be signed. Both co-owner David Sullivan and Sam Allardyce are in agreement that the current rules are simply not good enough to prevent Oxford from leaving to a bigger club. Let’s hope that Reece Oxford stays at West Ham and makes something of himself as we all know he has the potential to really become a star in the future.