West Ham United Star Jamal Baptiste

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West Ham United star Jamal Baptiste

West Ham United star Jamal Baptiste

Tipped to scale incredible peaks in his career, Jamal Baptise penned his first professional contract with West Ham United FC when he was 17

West Ham United FC is a club with an incredibly rich legacy and history in the Premier League. They have a famed academy that has churned out some of the most promising footballing talents in the last few decades. Jamal Baptiste, 19, is the latest new prospect to have come up their ranks. Tipped to scale incredible peaks in his career, the defender penned his first professional contract with West Ham United FC when he was 17.

Last season, he became their second youngest representative at the U23 level in addition to turning up for the England national team in the U18 age group as well. Many in the West Ham club compare him to fellow academy graduate Declan Rice, who has progressed to see roaring success both at the club and the international level in the last few years.

Baptiste is a part of the West Ham squad that is touring India for the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup. The Hammers finished second in Group A behind Stellenbosch FC after winning one and drawing twice in their three group stage fixtures. Having played for the senior team in the FA Cup and being a part of the bench for the UEFA Europa Conference League, Baptiste is one of the senior members of the visiting contingent. He is looking to impart his learning from previous experiences into the current group of budding youngsters from the West Ham squad.

“I am finding it quite well. It’s obviously a different challenge that I have been able to come across. Most teams that I played in the last couple of years, I was the younger player. But, obviously, looking at the older players back there and seeing how they added themselves in a big group with younger players, it’s been done quite well and it’s a good experience. You can tell them (younger players) what they are doing tight and doing wrong,” Baptiste said.

West Ham played ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC in their first two games in the competition. They were held to a 1-1 draw against the Mariners but they followed it up by putting four past the Blues and keeping a clean sheet to notch an impressive victory in the second match. Baptiste has rubbed shoulders with some of the most stellar talents in English football but he believes that some key footballing philosophies remain constant across Premier League and Indian clubs.

“I think the mentality obviously of getting off and keeping the ball is quite the same (between Indian and English teams). I think they know when to press and when not to press. I think playing different teams that we probably will never face during the season and experiences of playing different types of teams have been very great,” the defender mentioned.

Coaches across clubs have stressed upon the importance of getting acquainted with different cultures and the role it plays in shaping good professionals out of these exciting footballers. Baptiste acknowledges that he has had a great time in India, having enjoyed different facets of the country along with the numerous non-footballing activities that the teams have participated in since touching down here.

“I really like it and I would want to come again to India. It’s something that I have never come across in my life before. All the cultural stuff that we have done, meeting new people, it has been lovely,” Baptiste signed off.

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