Having announced himself to the Premier League at the start of the season, Reece Oxford in a player with ever rising stock. Embracing a year of change and on a quest for the pitch, we sat down with him to talk FIFA and Sunday League.

A crazy year, how's your world changed in the last year?

"It's been a big change, I've moved into the first team changing room and been part of the Europa League team so it's been a pretty big season for me so far. I started my first game of the season earlier on in the year and started the game the week after, too. So it's been a massive season so far."

Before the season started, did you expect to get involved as you have?

"Yes and no. Yes because I was on the brink of coming on when Sam Allardyce was the manager. I was on the bench six times last season with him as manager. But no because he got sacked and the new manager came in. I wasn't sure how the new manager was going to take to me."

How is the new manager, quite a character isn't he? Big into his rock music...

"Yeah he's a great manager, one of the best I've played under for sure. Yeah he loves his rock. The Liverpool game, that was the first time he put his phone on and we just listened to rock. We won that game 3-0 so it must have worked. I came on that game for the last 15-20 minutes which was great."

Going straight in at the deep end with the Premier League, what have been the best experiences so far?

"Starting against Arsenal and winning 2-0, it's going to take a lot to top that."

How's it been getting involved with brands like Nike and events they're running?

"I feel lucky to just get an invite. Two years ago, I was signed up with Nike but not doing anything like this. It's a dream really, I used to watch people on YouTube coming to events and being the main person and now I'm coming to those events. It's important to be involved but it's also important not to go over the top, otherwise you might lose your head a bit and think you're bigger than you are so you've just got to keep it at a level."

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Away from the professional game, how hard is it to resist a kick about with mates?

"They always ask me, “Come and play with us at Power League” but I have to say no because of West Ham and that – If I get injured, I'm going to get killed. When I was in school, I used to go and play a bit then go into training the next day and they'd be like, “Wait a minute have you been on your feet a bit?”. I can't do that these days."

When matchday is over how does the rest of the weekend usually unfold?

"Usually, most weekends I'd go home, get dressed and maybe go out for some food with my family. Or just like a normal seventeen year old really, just go to my friends house. I don't try and go out or anything. I just like to keep it cool."

Off the pitch, what sort of things are you into?

"FIFA. That's where most of my spare time goes."

You made it into FIFA16, right? That must be kind of nuts.

"It is, all my friends were asking if I was going to be in it you know. When I was playing under-21s they kept telling me “You should be in, you should be in it” and I've always just said hopefully next year so I'm just happy to be in it."

Will you be putting yourself in the team?

"I don't know about that, I think I'll keep myself out of the team, it's surreal to be in there."

When you go from playing as you have been the last couple of seasons to looking at the Premier League this season, does it feel like a bit of an explosion?

"Yeah, it does a bit. I noticed it last season or maybe two seasons ago, when I was 15. A new Academy Director came in, and at that point I was training with the under-18s and then he put me right in with the under-21s and I was captain for the under-21s when I was 15 and that's just been a real step up and healthy change for me. Terry Westley – he's been a big part in pushing me through the ranks."

That step up, from the under-21s then to the first team in the Premier League, is it really noticable?

"Yeah, like when we played Arsenal it was a big step up for me. It wasn't as physical as I expected but just looking up and trying to find a player – it was a big change. But then the Leicester game the next week it was more physical and after that game, I felt like I needed to go to the gym a bit more!"

Have you managed to get a lot of advice from players around you as to how to keep developing?

"Everyone just keeps telling me to keep focused really, keep your head down and stay focused so that's what I'm trying to do."

Do you feel much pressure at the moment or are you finding it all quite natural?

"A lot of people just say, be good, be happy where you are but I like looking forward, I always want to achieve more and more. There is a lot of positive pressure on me from coaches and stuff and but my family do keep saying I should be happy with what I have achieved so far so I have to take that on board."

How important are your boots for you? Do you love a fresh pair?

"I do, I'm lucky in that I get to see new boots and try them all out, it feels good to get a fresh pair."

Can you remember your first pair?

"I think they were Vapors – pink Vapors."

Risky pink, how did they go down?

"I was a striker back then in the Sunday league and I think I scored something like 60 goals in the season so they were good for me."

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How have you been able to adapt your position?

"When they came to see me I was a striker but gradually they moved me into centre back and actually at centre back I feel more comfortable because I'm more of an aggressive player and I like to get stuck in and sometimes a striker can't really do that. It's just about getting more experienced, you look at a player like James Collins who has been a centre back in the Premier League for ten years, his experience is so valuable." 

How close do you think you are to that regular first team spot?

"There's a lot of good players and it's great to be in a good team. We're doing good at the moment so I'm hoping by the end of this season and into the next. It's a great place to be right now, the squad is happy and the manager is happy."

Are there some players that you grew up idolising and then got stunned when you see them on the pitch around you?

"Noble was really the face of West Ham from when I was first signed. So playing with him and training with him every day was really big for me. I look up to him really and think, “This is the captain of West Ham.” To be where he is and stay loyal to West Ham his whole career, it's amazing."

If you could pin-point one thing you'd like to do over the next few years, what would that be?

"To get in the England squad. First team start for West Ham week-in, week-out. That's where I want to get."

Photography: Stewart Capper for SoccerBible