Delighted debutant Divin Mubama had an eventful evening in Bucharest, where the hungry Hammers secured an emphatic 3-0 victory over FCSB, last night.
After being handed a first-ever senior start in claret and blue, the 18-year-old Academy of Football graduate certainly grabbed his opportunity at the National Arena, as table-topping West Ham United simply ran the Romanians ragged in their free-wheeling win.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment from the age of eight and words just can’t describe how I’m feeling,” beamed the 18-year-old following the Hammers sixth straight Group B victory in the UEFA Conference League.
“My family couldn’t believe it when I told them I was travelling with the squad but they told me to stay focused and be prepared.
“There was a little bit of nerves but everyone in the first team has helped me with their advice, too, especially the centre halves. Experienced players – like Nayef Aguerd – have been telling me what to do and what not to do and it’s been very good to learn from the likes of them.
“I’ve grown up in the area so West Ham United is all I’ve ever known from walking through the doors at the Chadwell Heath training ground to living 15 minutes away from London Stadium.
“On Wednesday, I was on FIFA 23 having picked myself to play against FCSB and I actually scored!” continued Mubama, who almost turned fantasy football into reality 10 minutes into the second half, when he met Vladimír Coufal’s cross with a diving header that deflected in-off joyless Joyskim Dawa to make it 2-0.
“Unfortunately, it was given as an own goal but I still had a butterfly feeling when I scored,” he said.
Indeed, the celebrations amongst the 2,900-strong travelling East End army, his team-mates and a string of youthful Hammers substitutes warming up down by the corner flag showed just what it meant to the rookie striker, who will surely claim a legitimate goal of his own if his stunning progress continues.
“Now, I’m 100 per cent getting my first match shirt framed and no-one is going to take it off me!” insisted the busy Newham-based No. 72, who also collected a late booking for a foul on Florinel Coman before retiring in place of fellow debutant Kaelan Casey with a quarter of an hour remaining.
“I’m literally living the dream and taking every step as it comes.”
And on a night when Oliver Scarles and Kamarai Swyer were also given their first senior outings, manager David Moyes was thrilled with the blend of youth and experience that secured that perfect six-out-of-six group victory ahead of the last 16 next March.
“We want everybody to think there is a way through to the first team, it’s what I believe in and I think it is the right way,” confirmed the delighted Scot.
Moyes now turns his attention to two final pre-FIFA World Cup 2022 Premier League encounters against Crystal Palace on Sunday (2pm) and Leicester City at London Stadium on November 12, which are sandwiched by a home Carabao Cup clash with Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday.
“Tonight gave us an opportunity to try and change things and you could see how much it meant for Divin to score a goal,” added Moyes.
“Although I know it was eventually ruled as an own goal, he is still only a young centre forward who’s just desperate to score. That’s a great thing to be.
“The UEFA Conference League has given us the opportunity to blood young players and give them the chance to show what us they can do. I will always try and give the youngsters opportunities but I’ve said to them tonight, once you get that chance, they have to take it.
“Football doesn’t always give you lots and lots of opportunities and you need to try and jump on it but I think that Divin and Oliver Scarles have done a decent job tonight.”