7000 watch Keen’s kid smash way into Youth Cup Final


Kevin Keen at London Stadium

Under 18s coach Kevin Keen was as thrilled as it gets as the West Ham United U18s thrashed their Southampton counterparts 6-1 to enter the FA Youth Cup Final  .

An incredible 7,000 incredible supporters turned out to support the kids as they marched into the final in magnificent style and now need to beat Arsenal in the Final at a date to be confirmed.

Divin Mubama scored a hat-trick while captain Gideon Kodua, Callum Marshall and substitute Favour Fawunmi also netted in a stunning showing for the young Irons, against a Saints side who hit back through Dominic Ballard when the Irons led by two.

From the preparations ahead of Thursday’s match, to the attitude of the players, to the efforts of his backroom team, lead coach Keen was immensely grateful for the efforts put in by everyone associated with the squad as they secured a first FA Youth Cup final since 1999.

It was a brilliant performance from the lads who showed amazing energy, pressing and for the first time from the Irons this season – Nottingham Forest apart – great goal scoring ability.

After the disastrous result and performance by the first team against Newcastle this was precisely what the supporter base required.

Kevin Keen declared: This is excellent. It’s been really, really good. Southampton are a decent team but we’ve shown tonight that we’ve got some decent players with some hopefully very bright futures ahead of them, and they’ll play longer for West Ham United. Hopefully we’ll see them playing even more games at this Stadium. 

 From Mason in goal through to Divin, who got the hat-trick, everyone was absolutely fantastic.

If I had to mention someone though, I’d probably mention the skipper. Gideon Kodua is a lad who has worked really hard to get where he is. He made the first goal for Divin and he made the third goal for us, which was really important.

And then he scored a fantastic goal. He’s a super lad and someone who all the younger lads in the Academy look up to. He’s local and worked his way up.

I thought, even with Dan Rigge and Favour Fawunmi coming on for their cameos at the end, we were absolutely fantastic all the way through.

I’m so proud of them. It’s tough because only Divin has played here before. But they’ve showed a real understanding of how we work over the year. I’m so happy and I want them to enjoy it and they deserve it because they’ve worked really hard this season. 

I was interested to see how the lads dealt with the greater media spotlight tonight, and I think they dealt with it very well.

And that spotlight is only going to get bigger. It’ll get bigger for the final. I was at Arsenal the other night and they did so well to beat Manchester City in the final. The media around that will be bigger. 

And, of course, if the lads want to go on and play in the first team, the media spotlight is through the roof. It’s something they’ve got to get used to but I thought they dealt with it really, really well. 

It was so special to come and play at London Stadium. 

Divin was the only one before tonight who had played here but the way they reacted to it, and for them to have that support here, it’s a fabulous night. 

It was so fantastic to have a crowd in that were so supportive. It’s a very special night and it’s a shame the final won’t be here. But we’ve spent every other round away from home so it’s enjoy it tonight and think about it down the line. 

I want to say, to finish off, just how fantastic my staff are.

Sometimes I can be a bit hard to work for, and I can be demanding, but I want to say a big thank you to my staff – Mark Phillips, Gerard Prenderville, Tom, Toby, Tony Falco, Dylan Curnell – everyone who makes an effort behind the scenes to make sure these lads can go and perform like that. They put in so much work and I’m thankful to them.” 

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon