Michail Antonio has revealed how he came close to quitting the game as a tenager without financial resources and in difficulties.
Our injured midfielder – currently facing around another two months on the sidelines is now on his fifth season with the Hammers during which made 112 appearances and scored 26 goals.
But his impact in showing determination and courage goes far further than that as he has overcome two hamstring injuries and is now battling a third.
He is one of those against the odds, all British footballers who always rises bloodied but unbowed. He may never be Pele but his battling qualities as a player and a bloke are quite amazing.
He has now revealed how it’s been a battle from the start where a humble upbringing had him questioning whether he was going down the correct career path as he set out at Tooting and Mitcham Unted.
That it has demonstrates again that graft and focus is probably more important than natural giftings.
“Determination was key, on and off the pitch,” he told Sky Sports during the launch of Jacamo’s new campaign.
He said: “There was one stage in my football career where I thought I wasn’t going to make it. We didn’t have much money growing up and my dad always said to me that football wasn’t a real job.
“I remember going home one day and telling my brother that I was going to give up football because I was 17 and was too old. My brother said he wouldn’t let me. He got me my first pair of real boots and those were the boots I managed to become professional in.”
As well as overcoming adversity off the pitch, Antonio had to overcome his fair share of challenges on it where lack of academy experience left him behind technically but it was in overcoming that he become the player and person he is today.
He explained: “My best advice is to keep going, keep pushing until you reach your goal. Even if you feel like you’ve reached your peak, you can always be better.
“Once I’ve achieved something, I will always push myself to achieve something else. When I got into the reserves, I said I need to get into the first team. When I got into the first team, I wanted to get into the Championship and then I wanted to get into the Premier League.
“It’s a constant battle, you’ve got to prove yourself to new players, new managers and the fans. I scored nine goals and had 11 assists in the Championship and was doing better than certain players in my position, but when I spoke to Premier League managers, they told me I was not consistent enough.
“Getting consistent enough to get into the Premier League has been my biggest personal challenge. I’ve kept having to pick myself up and go again.
“Because I didn’t go through the academy system, I missed out on a lot of the technique work so I would go out early before and after training to get to the stage I’m at.
“Now I’ve played for nine different clubs, I’m in the Premier League and I’ve been called up for England.”