West Ham’s Under-21 side defeated Brighton on Monday evening with 15-year-old Kanu making his first start at that age level, and academy director Terry Westley told the official club website that the youngster’s appearance sums up the Hammers’ attitude towards youth.
Westley said: “If something really sums up what we are all about it is this: the centre-forward [Kanu] is 15. They [Brighton] were an older, quite an established team tonight. It was about playing youth team players.”
Kanu has been playing in the Under-18 ranks for much of the season, but his rise to Under-21 level has capped his already impressive campaign.
He looks like a talented goalscorer, and he clearly has talent if the Hammers were ready to risk him at Under-21 level despite being just 15-years-old.
He is six years young than the age cap for the group, whilst senior players are also allowed to turn out at Under-21 level.
Brighton played an older team, but West Ham decided to throw their young players into the mix, and although Kanu did not score, he certainly impressed.
West Ham are known for their keen development of youth players, and their desire to incorporate academy stars in their first-team set-up.
Slaven Bilic has already used the likes of Josh Cullen, Reece Oxford and Elliot Lee this season in competitive action, and if Westley continues to work his manager at youth levels, Bilic will continue to have a great line of talented players to call upon in the coming years.