Collison determined to become a Hammers legend
Jack Collison has set his sights on becoming a West Ham legend after lifting the club's coveted Young Hammer of the Year award
By JONATHAN CLEGG
Jack Collison has set his sights on becoming a West Ham legend after lifting the club's coveted Young Hammer of the Year award.
Wales midfielder Collison has emerged as one of the Premier League's brightest talents during a stunning breakthrough campaign at Upton Park.
And the 20-year-old, who made his first start following an eight-week knee injury against Middlesbrough on Sunday, received recognition for his remarkable progress after landing the club's young-player-of-the-year award.
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West Ham academy chief Tony Carr chose Collison as the outstanding candidate for a prize previously awarded to Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe.
Now Collison is aiming to emulate those former winners by developing into a top Premier League performer and establishing himself as a Hammers great.
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He said: "I've only just come into the team this season and I've only played 20-odd games so I haven't achieved anything yet.
"But an award like this gives me great confidence to work hard and keep progressing and hopefully I can be a really big player for West Ham.
"The hard work begins now - I've come back every year looking to work hard and that's what I'll do at the start of next season because I want to come back even stronger next season."
Collison was almost offloaded last summer after the midfielder was the subject of a �130,000 bid from lowly Peterborough.
But the Wales starlet has flourished under new boss Gianfranco Zola, making 18 starts and netting three goals as the Hammers challenged for Europa League qualification.
He added: "For me, a big factor was the new manager coming in. He gave me a lot of confidence and belief in my own abilities to go out and show what I'm about.
"There were times at the start of the season when I was a little bit frustrated not to be playing and not being on the bench. But it was about getting my head down and working hard.
"The manager gave me my chance and now I'm doing my best to repay the faith he's shown in me. The competition for places next year is going to help us progress as a team and I think we can really push for Europe next year.