West Ham’s Henderson battling to be number one

Hammers young goalkeeper Stephen Henderson comes from a huge family of goalkeeping talent

It seems that West Ham’s Stephen Henderson was always destined to be a top class goalkeeper – after all, it runs in the family!

The 24-year-old Irishman attempts to make the number one spot at Upton Park his own this season and there will be plenty of people to give him advice along the way.

“There is myself, my Granddad, my dad and my two uncles, so I didn’t really have a choice about my position from a very early age,” revealed the softly-spoken Dubliner.

“My uncle Wayne is 28 now, he had a good career and played for Ireland five times, but had to retire due to a back injury, so I am kind of living the rest of his career for him now,” he smiled.

If Henderson can make the Premier League team then he will have surpassed the efforts of all his family and that is his aim for the new campaign.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win the spot,” he said. “It is an eight-week pre-season and I have got to go out and show what I can do.

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“I know the manager has seen me play at Portsmouth so they know what I am like. It is up to me now, if I am given the chance to take it.”

Coming to Upton Park has been a huge transformation for Henderson after the problems at crisis club Portsmouth.

“It was difficult because Portsmouth is a fantastic club with great fans and I loved playing there,” he said. “But at one stage I wasn’t getting paid for months and like anything the bills pile up and it does affect you mentally.”

Henderson was given a different problem on his arrival at West Ham – he simply wasn’t playing games.

“It was frustrating, but I was aware that I wouldn’t play unless Rob Green picked up an injury,” he said.

“But I did feel part of things. The lads and staff made me feel so welcome and the manager leaving me off the bench was just tactical – there were a lot of good players who weren’t making the bench, so it was one of those things I completely understood.

“It was just up to me to not sulk around the place and get on with it really.”

Clearly he did that as he was given a permanent contract at the end of the season and he feels he has already learned things since arriving at Upton Park.

“I picked up a lot from Rob Green because he is one of the hardest goalkeepers training wise. I was lucky enough to work with David James at Bristol City, so I am blessed in that sense in having two of the best keepers in the English game to work with.”

It certainly seems to have worked for the youngster and the next step on the ladder is making that number one spot his own.

Is it still up for grabs?

“I hope so,” he said. “The manager hasn’t made any hints yet. I know Jussi has played over 500 games and has got the edge in terms of experience, but it is up to me to show what I can do, so we will see what happens.”

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