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Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Hammers striker Rob Hall is learning the game fast both with West Ham and England under-19s
Just 48 hours after he suffered heartbreak in the semi-final of the European under-19 Championships in Estonia, youngster Robert Hall was standing in the driving rain ready for West Ham’s pre-season friendly clash with Southend United.
The 18-year-old missed a penalty in England’s surprise 2-1 defeat against 10-man Greece in Tallinn on Thursday, but it says much for the confidence of the youngster that he was able to travel nearly 1,200 miles to show what he could do in claret and blue.
“I got back yesterday (Friday) at about six in the evening after travelling all day,” revealed the striker turned midfield player who proved to be one of the stars of the tournament for England, despite that penalty miss.
“It was a long time away from home, but I learned a lot out there and had a lot of good experiences.
“Some bad of course, like going out in the semis, but it was a very worthwhile trip. You see different coaches and you learn to live in certain ways. I have done it before, but I think on this trip I learned a lot more.”
It certainly looked as though the Academy team star had moved on from last season when he spent valuable time on loan at Oxford United and MK Dons as well as breaking through at West Ham with four substitute appearances.
Playing on Saturday from the opening kick-off was certainly something he had not anticipated though.
“I wasn’t expecting to start to be honest,” he said. “I came in and did a couple of things and I heard I was only playing for 30 minutes, but I thought it would be at the other end.
“But I came into the changing room and saw my name on the starting list so I went out there and did my best.”
Hall was only on for 33 minutes but in that time he set up a good chance for Matt Taylor which led to Kevin Nolan’s disallowed goal, while he also saw a shot of his own fly inches over the top.
The saturated conditions were certainly an eye-opener for the England man though.
“It was a lot different to Estonia,” he said. “It was hot out there and dry, so coming back home to England and playing on a greasy pitch with a couple of puddles was different!
“That is football though and you have to put up with these things and in the end it was great.”
Hall will not be expected to play many times in the first team this season, but he has his own agenda about the Premier League campaign.
“I think I just need to stay in and around the first team,” he said. “I need to try and grab opportunities like this one and take them as much as I can.
“I want to try and stay around the lads. They are great players, Premiership players now and they have been for years.
“I’m just trying to learn from them to help me on the way.
“It would be a dream come true to play in the Premier League. Hopefully it will come true, but if it doesn’t I’ve just got to keep going, keep pushing on and hopefully one day it will come.”
Few would bet against that and some may even wager that it happens this season.