Last Sunday saw Bilic grant 16-year-old Reece Oxford an unbelievable chance to prove he is capable of playing at the highest level.
With a magnitude of pressure placed on the young boy’s head, it was unclear how this risk would pan out. But it’s safe to say Bilic was right with this one, and the 94% pass completion rate Oxford proved to be one of the better players on the pitch.
Of course he is still inexperienced and relatively untested, but he seems like a very exciting prospect.
He has been likened to Rio Ferdinand countless times already, a player who was also tested frequently in his youth as a defensive midfielder, although primarily being a centre back.
It seems like Oxford has the potential to be our next Rio, but we must not get too optimistic just yet. Whilst I am very excited to see what the young star can achieve in the coming years, it is important that as fans we stay realistic and respect that he is still very young.
We cant put all our hopes on him just yet.
Since our golden era in which players like Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick, we haven’t really produced many talents that have gone to conquer English football. Although nothing is set in stone just yet, we may have another name to add to this list of talented Brits.
In the last decade we have produced some talents in the form of Mark Noble and James Tomkins, but it’s a more special talent like we’ve seen in the past is what all fans have been waiting for.
Whilst already having played some competitive matches in the Europa League, Oxford’s Premier League debut was a talking point all over the nation. Whereas before the match Oxford was relatively unknown to everyone apart from us, now he is the player on everybody’s lips.
He was a massive risk that paid off to the delight of fans and pundits alike. His attitude has been top class, with Bilic highlighting his drive, determination and commitment to the cause. It seems that Oxford has the ability to do whatever is asked of him.
At such a young age, Oxford is an extremely versatile player. He began his career in the youth system as a centre forward whilst at Tottenham Hotspur. And now, although primarily being a centre back throughout the majority of his youth career, he has been thrown into a holding midfield role.
Making his Premier League debut at only 16 years and 236 days he became the seventh youngest player to make his debut in the top-flight, the second youngest starter in the league, and West Ham’s youngest player in the league; a fantastic achievement for the young lad.
Whatever direction Oxford goes, West Ham fans can take comfort in the fact he will be performing for us for many years to come.
With Bilic as manager, a man who likes utilising youth and home grown talent, West Ham may have just found the perfect fit for young Oxford to become a real star.
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