Hammers’ Parfitt-Williams will always be Bermudian
Yesterday The Royal Gazette ran a story about a Bermuda born youngster — Djair Parfitt-Williams — who is having some success in West Ham's youth team.
What probably caught most people's attention in the article is that the youngster, who left Bermuda at age eight to move to California, plans to represent the United States once he obtains US citizenship which should happen in the coming months. He is still only 17, but when I saw him about three or four years ago when he was 13 or 14 I knew he was something special.
His grandfather Lynn Wade gave me a call one day and said his grandson wanted to have a trial in England. He was living in California then and I told him to come down and let me have a look. We talked on the phone and he came here one Christmas and trained with one of the teams in Somerset and once I saw him I knew he was something special.
I gave West Ham a call and made arrangements with the Academy coaches for him to go over and have a trial. They liked what they saw and signed him.
I knew he could play from what I saw in training. Other youngsters like Amar Lewis and Paul Douglas, who spent some time training at the West Ham Academy, have had opportunities and I want to see more Bermudian youngsters get opportunities. It would be nice to have someone go there and duplicate what I did many years ago.
Djair is a very good player and you will be pleasantly surprised once you see him. He's 17 now and is playing in the under-18s and under-21s so he's got the talent. He's got a good football brain, has a fantastic touch and knows ‘when to and when not to' and that is all very important. I look forward to him achieving more. I hope it is not too far away but I envisage him playing in the Premier League. However, a lot will depend on him.
It is like making his decision to play for the USA, that's a decision he made himself. I can't be disappointed that he has chosen the US over Bermuda, I would want the individual to make the what they think is the right decision for themselves. He's born here and will always be a Bermudian as far as I'm concerned.
Although it has been close to 40 years since I left West Ham, I still have close ties with the club and would not hesitate to recommend a young player to the club, as long as I can see them and they have the right attitude, because it is not about talent alone. After all my name and reputation is attached to that recommendation.
You have to have the right attitude and mentality and those are the things I look for, you being able to carry yourself in a certain way. That would be my biggest concern. I don't watch as much football as I would like, because I'm doing other things, but I do have nephews and great nephews out there playing and I need to get out there and support them any way I can. I'm going to have to make the time.
The Clyde Best Tournament isn't held here anymore — and the people at the Bermuda Football Association are the best people to give you the answer why — but I'm disappointed for the kids because it was giving them a chance to play against good opposition from overseas.
West Ham gladly sent their Academy team to the tournament. Also, opportunities come out of tournaments like that and you can't get better opposition than from youth teams at professional clubs.
We've tried to set up an academy here and I don't know how that is going because I haven't been around it for some time. You have to think about the youngsters coming through and make sure they have the best opportunities possible. If I see a youngster and I think they have the ability and right mentality then I will definitely make recommendations.