Aylesbury footballer Rob Hall has sealed something of a surprise move to Championship Bolton Wanderers from boyhood club West Ham and admitted it was a tough decision to make.
The England U19 forward has been with the Hammers for 12 years and was one of the club’s brightest prospects as he rose through the ranks resulting in first team appearances last season.
But with his West Ham contract coming to an end on Monday, he has now signed a three year deal with the Trotters, with whom he spent a brief spell on loan at the end of last season.
The transfer has raised eyebrows amongst West Ham fans who had followed Hall’s progress closely and hoped he would be given more first team opportunities.
Just last season Hall was spoken about by West Ham boss Sam Allardyce as one of the brightest prospects for his first team. But the former Grange School pupil has elected to drop down a league in search of guaranteed first team football.
Neither club, nor the player himself, has yet spoken about the reasons for his decision to leave the East Londoners and given that he is an Academy player under 24 years of age, a compensation package must be agreed or it will be decided by a tribunal.
In a more telling statement on the West Ham website, the club said Hall has ‘opted to move to the Reebok Stadium after his contract expired on 30 June’, hinting he had a choice to make.
And Hall said on Tuesday morning that having a manager that wanted him helped him make his decision.
““I am delighted to be joining a club with great ambition and to have a manager that believes in me and has made a big effort to bring me here.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make, trust me I cant express how hard the decision was but I want to thank all the staff and the FANS at West Ham and wish them every success in the future.”
After coming through the famous West Ham Academy ranks, the 19-year-old made his senior made his first-team debut in a 2-1 Championship defeat at Derby County on New Year’s Eve 2011. In total, he made seven senior appearances for Hammers.
A statement on West Ham’s website said: “West Ham United would like to thank Rob for his hard work and wish him every success in his future career.”
Hall will be linking up with fellow Aylesbury Vale footballer Sam Ricketts, of Wendover, in the Bolton squad. He is also one of a number of footballers from the town plying their trade in the second tier of English football along with close friend Matty Phillips (Blackpool) and FA Cup hero Emmerson Boyce (Wigan Athletic).