Sears hails youth chief Carr after signing new deal
Hammers hotshot Freddie Sears has paid tribute to academy chief Tony Carr after signing a new long-term contract at Upton Park
By JONATHAN CLEGG
HAMMERS hotshot Freddie Sears has paid tribute to academy chief Tony Carr after signing a new long-term contract at Upton Park.
Sears, who celebrated his 19th birthday last week, has committed his future to West Ham after penning a new five-year deal that will keep him at the club until 2013.
The England Under-19 striker burst into the national spotlight this year with a match-winning debut against Blackburn in February.
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With Upton Park legends Trevor Brooking, Geoff Hurst and Billy Bonds in attendance, the homegrown youngster served notice of his star potential by scoring the winner within six minutes of appearing as a substitute.
The forward's memorable debut added a new chapter to the club's storied history of nurturing young talent and after agreeing his new deal last week, Sears praised academy boss Carr for overseeing his rapid rise.
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"I owe a big debt to academy director Tony Carr," said Sears, who scored 25 goals in 24 youth and reserve matches last year.
"Tony has had a big influence on me and it's good for youngsters like me who have come through the academy to learn from someone as experienced and knowledgeable as him."
With his long-term future now finalised, Sears has promised Hammers fans that the best is yet to come after vowing to transfer his prolific form at youth and reserve level to the club's first team.
The striker, who has failed to score in 17 Premier League appearances since his stunning introduction to top-flight football, is determined to repay his boyhood club for their faith in him.
He said: "I'm looking forward to concentrating on football now.
"It's nice to know the club wants you here, for that long as well. I am enjoying my football and all that I've been doing and hopefully I can now show there is more to come.
"Last year was getting in and around the team and now I'm looking to keep building on that - getting more chances of playing week-in, week-out and showing people what I can do.
"Now to be part of the team itself is great and something I am determined to continue."
Hammers chief executive Scott Duxbury expressed his delight at coming to an agreement with Sears, who has followed in the footsteps of fellow forwards Dean Ashton and Carlton Cole by signing a new contract this year.
And Duxbury has tipped the youngster to spearhead a new generation of academy graduates at Upton Park.
"Our philosophy is about developing homegrown players in the academy and then integrating them into the first team," Duxbury said.
"Freddie has achieved that and we are looking forward to him playing his part in a bright future for West Ham.