How befitting could it be for one to liken a 17-year-old playing U18 and U23 football to a World Cup winner.
Well, Keenan Appiah-Forson is already belching, speeching and grinding well. For the eye of the most accomplished British football scout he is the heir apparent to N’Golo Kante.
The next big thing the Premier League must wait for.
Keenan signed a scholarship contract with the Hammers last year and has since continued to flourish and shift between games that have different demands. The exhibition of talent and skill in the U18 Premier League and the hustling and jostling of about-to-get-ready players featuring in the U23 league other known as the Premier League 2.
Despite the varied demands of him at such a tender age the diminutive midfield fanbelt’s lips curled with a smile as he proclaims his satisfaction with how the season transpired.
“It’s been good. [Hopefully more game time next season. But I’m happy with the way things have puned out though the U23 is physically tough.”
The English U18 Premier League and Premier League 2 is flooded with players of Africa origin predominantly from Nigeria and Ghana. Keenan has two Ghanaian team-mates who also play with him across the separate league. Sean Adarkwa is a striker while goalkeeper Joseph Tetteh Anang is a regular for his side.
He reveals he gets along well with them and admits he keeps touch with his Ghanaian cultural heritage by playing Afrobeat to his teammates and picks Ghanaian artiste KiDi as his favourite.
“We are all doing well now [in the team]. I do give my friends some Afrobeats to listen to and [I particularly listen to KiDi a lot].”
Although he has been likened to Kante and has so much hype around Keenan doesn’t want to fall into the trap of rushing for first team football. He also believes only hard work could get him to beat the fate of most Premier League academy products who end up playing lower-tier league football in England.
“[As it stands now] I’m still a long way from the first team so I have to work for it. [Fate of players who are unable to come to the first team and the direction of clubs] there’s nothing I can do about it. I just have to work hard to [get to where I dream to be].
In a game of many midfielders a style must define you. And, he says he has been likened to France World Cup winner N’Golo Kante who plays for Chelsea.
“[I get compared to Kante a lot because of my style of play and vision.]”
Both in England to Ghanaian immigrant parents Keenan is eligible to represent either Ghana or England. But, he is coiled over the choice.
“I could play for either of them.”
The Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate the young Hammer picks and the Argentine football necromancer.
“Messi. He’s just the G. O. A. T. He’s exciting to watch.”
Keenan plays for West Ham’s London rivals Chelsea but he boldly admits he is a fan of the Blues.
“Chelsea is my favourite club.”
He reveals he once tried out at Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic and Millwall.
“One thing most people don’t know about me is that I trailed for Charlton, Millwall and Spurs. One as striker, as a right back and a midfielder.”
In five years time he sees himself: “Playing first team football in the Premier League.”
He says he was brought to Ghana once when he was a child by his immigrant Ghana parents.
“Yes, I’ve been to Ghana before when I was very young.”
By El Akyereko
Follow the writer on Twitter: @AkwasiAkyereko