Howes’ West Ham dream debut

Not many players make a first-team debut at 16. Even fewer are goalkeepers, but for die-hard West Ham United fan Sam Howes, his dream of playing for the Irons became a reality on Sunday.

The England U17 international, who helped his country win the European Championship in May, was handed his senior bow during the Hammers 3-1 defeat by Sydney FC in New Zealand on Sunday as he came off the bench for the final 15 minutes.

The teenager not only kept his goal intact throughout his spell on the pitch, he also showed great composure to control a misplaced backpass and dribble past an opposition striker just seconds after replacing Adrian.

“It’s a really big thing for me and I’m really buzzing at the moment,” Howes told West Ham’s official website.

“My head was spinning a bit and I was thinking ‘Is this actually happening’ as I couldn’t believe it”

Howes on his debut

“I’m not 17 until November, so to make my debut for the first team on this tour was not just an achievement for me, but for everyone around me – the coaching staff and everyone who has helped me at West Ham.”

“As soon as I got on the pitch, my head was spinning a bit and I was thinking: ‘is this actually happening?’ as I couldn’t believe it at first.

“I took a free-kick and got a backpass off Reidy [Winston Reid] and obviously it wasn’t the best of backpasses, but at the same time I dealt with it and I kept a clean sheet, albeit I was only on the pitch for ten minutes or so.

“I am really pleased with what I did out there, to be fair.”

Making a first-team appearance was the perfect end to an amazing, yet unexpected, nine-day stay in New Zealand for Howes.

“I only found out on the Tuesday before we left after a pre-season game for the reserves and to get the call out here was unbelievable, really,” he added.

“It’s a dream come true for me to play for the first team, training with the lads and also to meet all the fans as well out here in New Zealand.

“It’s two weeks away from home and words can’t describe how I’m feeling at the moment. It’s been blinding.”

Having now made his debut in pre-season, Howes’ ambition is to now cement his place in the club’s development squad – and he is already eyeing another senior outing.

“A good season would be to play as many Under-21s games as possible and to keep training with the first team,” he said. 

“Hopefully I’ll get into the squad for some of the League Cup or FA Cup games – I just have to wait and see really.

“I’ll just take it as it comes and move onwards and upwards, as you do.”