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Lewis Orford – The midfield creator leading West Ham’s dominance

[Photo by Pete Norton]

West Ham have dominated the U18 Premier League South this season, winning all 11 of their games, scoring 42 and conceding 16. At the forefront of their success has been Lewis Orford, the 16-year-old attacking midfielder who signed a scholarship in June 2022.

The numbers

Orford has scored five goals and assisted nine in the U18 Premier League South this season and has been a mainstay in the West Ham starting 11. The young English midfielder scored three goals and had eight assists in the 2021/22 season at the age of 15 and has continued his form this term.

Orford was officially scouted to play for West Ham at the age of eight, but he had a significant knee injury when he was eleven that ruled him out for nine months. Since Orford’s knee injury, he has continually played with older age groups in the West Ham academy system.

Playing style/main attributes

The main attributes of Orford’s game lie in his range of passing and chance creation from deep positions. His assist numbers highlight his creativity, and he also has an eye for a goal. A lot of Orford’s goals come from him arriving late into the box and finding space to shoot in congested areas.

An example of this was his goal against Fulham earlier in the season. Orford received the ball ten yards out before dummying his man and placing the ball into the top corner with his left-foot.

Natural comparisons can be made with the likes of Frank Lampard and Declan Rice due to their development in the West Ham academy. However, Orford told Versus ‘’ I like to try and base my game on what KDB does. I’m also a big fan of Bruno Fernandes too, in the sense that he gets a lot of important goals and assists for Man Utd.’’

What the future holds?

Orford was named in the Guardian’s ‘next generation of 2022’ article, which picks out a player to look out for from each of the 20 Premier League clubs every year.

Ben Doak, who has made three appearances for the Liverpool first team this season, and Joel Ndala of Manchester City, who is the top scorer in the U18 Premier League, were also mentioned in this article.

The Guardian’s class of 2020 article included Arsenal’s Charlie Patino and there is a lot that Orford can learn from his fellow Englishman. Patino is currently flourishing at Blackpool in the Championship and has made 20 appearances this season, scoring two goals and assisting two.

Loan experience provides invaluable experience for young players and often results in them being held in higher regard by their parent club when they return. To realise his full potential, Orford may benefit from following a similar path to Patino in a couple of years’ time.

However, Orford is only 16 and the short-term priority will be to play more games for the West Ham U21’s in the Premier League 2 as he has only made one appearance this season.

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