Reece Oxford: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Reece Oxford is on the verge of breaking into the West Ham first team. Getty)

Reece Oxford is on the verge of breaking into the West Ham first team. (Getty)

One of the strongest developmental academies in the world, West Ham’s academy has churned out stars over the past 15 years. Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe and Frank Lampard all had their careers begin with the London club, who have remained in the top division for most the Premier League era largely because of their ability to develop their own stars.

Reece Oxford appears to be the next great English talent the Hammers are producing. The central defender graduated from the academy last season and is knocking on the first team door after signing a professional contract.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Oxford Became Youngest Player in West Ham History at 16 Years, 198 Days

(Twitter: Reeceoxford)

(Twitter: Reeceoxford)

Though playing in the Europa League’s long qualifying schedule to reach the tournament isn’t in the best interests of most clubs, the extra matches proved to be a blessing for Oxford. He made his senior debut for the Hammers in their first round victory over Andorran side Lusitanos. He was 16 years, 198 days old, younger than former record-holder Billy Williams (16 years, 221 days).

He would start two more matches for West Ham in qualifying; the Hammers allowed two goals in the 270 minutes he was on the field.

The Premier League record for youngest player to appear belongs to former Fulham defender Matthew Briggs, who was 16 years and 68 days old when he came on as a substitute.

West Ham were eliminated in the third round of qualifying to Romania’s Astra Giurgiu, when they fielded a youth squad instead of the first team. Oxford played in the first leg, but sat out the second.

2. Oxford Is a Tall Central Defender With Pace

Standing 6-foot-3 and the quickness of most center backs, Oxford is already being compared to a former West Ham star.

Rio Ferdinand was one of the best defenders of all time in his prime, and Oxford hopes to follow that trajectory. The comparisons between the two are natural. Ferdinand made his debut for the Hammers at age 17 towards the end of the 1995/96 season, and went on to play four seasons with West Ham before moving on to Leeds, Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers.

Scouts from all the top teams in the country took a long look at Oxford as he made a name for himself last year.

3. He Was an Unused Substitute Late Last Season

(Twitter: Reeceoxford)

The Dylan Tombides Award goes to the best academy player of the year. (Twitter: Reeceoxford)

When a massive injury bug hit the club towards the end of the season, Oxford was called up to the first time. Though he never came onto the field, Oxford was named in squads when the Hammers faced Queens Park Rangers, among others.

West Ham finished 12th in the Premier League table last season; though their 47 points were the most they scored in the EPL since 2008/2009.

Oxford signed a new contract with the team in January, 2015, ending temporary speculation that he may leave the club. He was also named the club’s Academy Player of the Year for 2014/2015.

4. He Is the Captain of England’s U-17 Team

Reece Oxford has been a staple in England's European Championship qualifyers

Reece Oxford has been a staple in England’s World Cup qualifiers. (Getty)

As much as he’s been one of the top academy players in the country, Oxford has been equally impressive in the England youth ranks. He’s made close to 20 appearances for England’s U-17 team and currently serves as the captain.

In March, he scored a goal to help the English qualify for the European U-17 Championships. England won their group in that tournament, but fell to Russia 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

He will also lead England in the U-17 World Cup, which takes place this October. England will be in a group with Guinea, Korea Republic and Brazil.

5. Oxford Made His Debut Against Arsenal Sunday in Barclays Premier League Opener


Will Oxford play in the EPL this season? (Getty)

With Oxford making appearances in the Europa League this summer, speculation is rampant that he may get a shot in the first team in West Ham’s Premier League opener against Arsenal. The dream came true for Oxford as he started and played most of the match before being substituted.

Oxford told West Ham’s official website: “I have had a lot of games and am just trying to take it step-by-step each time I go out there.”

In addition to Oxford, West Ham also have James Tomkins, James Collins, Doneil Henry and fellow youngster Reece Burke at center back.

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