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West Ham academy coach Martin makes glowing tribute to Silkeborg

 West Ham United Academy Manager Ricky Martin spoke positively about his time spent at Silkeborg IF.

The Hammers took on the Danish side in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, winning 1-0.

Pre-game, Martin was asked about his past at Silkeborg IF and how it helped shape his career.

He stated: “It will be a joy to see some familiar faces when Silkeborg visit London Stadium for tonight's fixture.

“When I moved on from Norwich City in 2017, I wanted to spend some time travelling and working abroad and began working for a Belgian company called Double Pass. They gave me the opportunity to travel around Europe and provide football consultation, and one of the projects I was given was as lead consultant in Denmark for the Danish Superliga. Silkeborg IF was one of the clubs that I visited regularly over the 18 months that I worked with Double Pass.

“Denmark is a great country; one where they are really passionate about and have really strong values around cohesion, working together and respect for their colleagues. That was clear in Silkeborg's ethos the first time I worked with them.

“I was really impressed with the club's togetherness and the family environment, as well as the passion across the club for helping young players. They had created a great environment, one which placed their youth development programme at the forefront of their entire football club.

“The focus was on building an identity and a playing style, which is what I worked with them on developing. The playing style at Silkeborg was one that could run through the fabric of the club; from the first team right the way through the Academy.

“Denmark, as a footballing nation, was trying to develop their Academy programme at a time when England had just gone through that process. Silkeborg, and other clubs, were in a process of trying to apply for Academy ratings, and clubs in England had just gone through the audit process before being awarded their category statuses. In Denmark, they implemented a star process – from five stars to one – and a higher star rating for your Academy meant you played at a higher level. Having been through a similar process in England not too long before with Norwich, it was a good opportunity for me to pass on my learnings and some advice based on my own findings.

“Together, we also worked on other projects around their youth development such as the player pathway, individual development plans, transition process and how to bring strategy to life. They were just some of the facets that we worked together on during my time in Denmark."

“The time I worked with Silkeborg was a good period for the club on the pitch. They would win the Danish First Division title in 2019 and be promoted to the Superliga, after a year outside the top league.

“At that time, the club had invested in JYSK park and their artificial pitch, which then allowed them to really help develop their players at their home stadium too. That meant all their Academy training sessions could also take place on their main pitch – along with some support areas just behind it – and that was something the club had been really eager to work on. They wanted to create a nice environment and a culture of developing talent. I could see the club was going in the right direction in that regard.

“Something that really stood out to me in Denmark – and at Silkeborg – was the real passion they had for developing young players and, interestingly, getting them to a place where they could export them.

“Clubs were eager to export their players which, in turn, would allow for a further investment in the development of players and the club on the whole. It was interesting to see clubs quite comfortable with the idea of selling players when, in England, clubs and fans are perhaps more opposed to the concept.

“Culturally, these clubs knew they would have to sell their players to keep themselves on a good financial footing. That was something I picked up on; there was always an eye on the future.

“I visited Denmark near enough weekly during my time with Double Pass and I was fortunate enough to build connections with individual clubs – including Silkeborg – and stay in touch with many of them in the time since I joined West Ham United.

“I built up a good relationship with Silkeborg Sporting Director Jesper Stüker during my time working with the club. We stayed in touch and, prior to this evening's game, he and seven members of their staff have spent the day with us at the Academy to discuss and share ideas.

“I think that is what's truly great about football. It's a collection of sharing ideas and, no matter where in the world you're from, football is the same language everywhere.

“It has been a pleasure to spend time with them ahead of tonight's fixture, and I hope they – and everyone associated with Silkeborg IF – enjoy their trip to London Stadium."

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