Hammers sign Paul ‘wonderkid’ McCallum
Paul McCallum is aiming to go all the way at West Ham United after his deadline-day arrival at the Boleyn Ground for an undisclosed fee.
The striker, who turns 18 in July, has been a revelation at non-league Dulwich Hamlet this season, not least in scoring six goals in his last three matches. McCallum had attracted interest from a reported 14 clubs but had no hesitation in choosing a switch to West Ham
After putting pen to paper on Monday evening following his medical, the Streatham-based teenager told West Ham TV: “It feels unreal. I feel like I am dreaming. I am expecting to wake up any minute. I am honoured to sign for West Ham and I feel great.”
A pacy forward who is still growing at 6’3, McCallum is ready to knuckle down and prove himself first in Tony Carr’s youth set-up, where he has already met his new team-mates. He is relishing the thought of learning from the likes of Carlton Cole and Robbie Keane at Chadwell Heath.
“The youth team at West Ham have got a great history and that is one of the reason why West Ham stood out more than the Chelseas and Arsenals. I know I made the right decision to come here. There is definitely a path here. It is a great set-up.”
McCallum only started playing football competitively two years ago, citing himself as a “late developer”. He began playing men’s football aged 15 with his brothers and said that had helped him to cope with the demands at Dulwich. He has also had to deal with the intense interest from several scouts whenever he has played.
His fine season saw him score eleven goals in the FA Youth Cup as the Dulwich academy team made it to a third-round tie against Newcastle United. It was in the south London side’s first team that he made a real impact, though, and prompted the Premier League’s finest to take notice.
“A lot of clubs were interested. At one point I think it was 14 clubs. I have just kept my head down and carried on working hard and here I am now.
“I have been on trial so I know everyone and like the way training is. I hope I can hit the ground running. The first team would be the dream. Hopefully one day, with some luck, the coaches can see what I can do and I get a chance.”
A keen tennis and badminton fan, McCallum said he had already thought about the possibility of one day playing for the club at the Olympic Stadium, should the club relocate. “It would definitely be a dream to play for West Ham at the Olympic Stadium,” he added.