IT'S HAMMER TIME FOR HAMLET PRODIGY PAUL
Dulwich Hamlet will be without their teenager striking prodigy. Paul McCallum, for this evening's clash with Horsham YMCA in the Ryman League after the latest diamond to unearthed by Gavin Rose and Junior Kadi's ASPIRE Academy put pen to paper with Premiership club, West Ham United for an undisclosed fee on deadline day. 17-year-old McCallum has been earning rave reviews after catching the eye at Dulwich Hamlet this season, scoring six goals in his last three First Team matches.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, West Ham co-owner, David Sullivan said, "Yesterday, we signed 18-year-old striker Paul McCallum from Dulwich Hamlet for a small fee. It could prove to be the signing of the window, if he fulfils his potential. A few other clubs wanted him, but we moved quickly; he is one for the future and our club has a reputation for giving young players a chance. We'll see how he develops."
Paul has attracted interest from a reported 14 clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Celtic, Reading, Crystal Palace and Millwall, with scouts regularly beating a path to Champion Hill to digest the prodigious youngster's talents. However, Paul insisted he has made the right choice in moving to Upton Park.
After putting pen to paper on Monday evening following his medical, the Streatham-based teenager told the West Ham United' official website, "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.
Fast on the floor and dominant in the air like the strikers of yore, McCallum has stated he is ready to knuckle down and prove himself first in Tony Carr's youth set-up, where he has already met his new teammates. 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 reasons 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."
It is just two short years since McCallum started playing football seriously, 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 Hamlet. He has also had to cope with the intense interest from several scouts whenever he has played.
His debut season at Champion Hill saw him impress first in the Academy setup, scoring eleven goals in the FA Youth Cup to help Dulwich Hamlet to a third round proper tie at home to Newcastle United. He broke though into the first team as a second half substitute against Ilford in the Championship Manager Cup, bagged his maiden senior goal against Corinthian-Casuals, a rare bright light on a dark evening, gradually gathering pace as he cemented his palace in the starting line-up. A fortnight ago, he showed he had truly come of age with a magnificent hat trick to sink a sorry Sittingbourne side before signing off with the winning goal in the dying moments of last week's Championship Manager Cup defeat of Romford.
Everyone at Champion Hill will be following Paul's progress at the Boleyn Ground and wish him every success in his future career at the highest level.