By London correspondent Tony Hughes
Michail Antonio has revealed he rejected the chance to join Tottenham when he was 14 – to concentrate on his studies.
The West Ham star was offered schoolboy terms with Spurs when he was in his early teens after impressing the club’s scouts.
But Antonio’s mother did not want him commuting from his home in Earlsfield, south-west London, to north London because she was concerned by the effect it would have on his education.
“I was 14 and playing for my school team and one of my school teachers also coached for Spurs at the time, so a scout came out to watch one of my school games and was looking to sign me and one of my friends,” Antonio told the Goals on Sunday programme.
“My friend signed for them and played for their juniors although he didn’t get through to their Academy. But my Mum said that I needed to concentrate on my education because commuting there (Tottenham) would have meant getting back home quite late.
“I was crying. I was like, ‘you’re ruining my life, Mum’. But she made me and I still managed to finish my school work and got to college, so I feel I did it the right way.”
Antonio, who went on to join Reading as a trainee in his late teens, has had an outstanding debut season for West Ham following his £7million summer move from Nottingham Forest.
The wide player scored for the third consecutive league game on Saturday as the Hammers came from 2-0 down to secure a remarkable 3-2 win at Everton.
Antonio has now scored five goals in his last eight matches, and 11 in total this season, four of which came when he was still at Forest last August.