West Ham youngster George Earthy is still trying to process the “surreal” feeling of making his senior debut for the club.

Despite not bringing through as many as they would have hoped, the academy of football continues to produce some of the biggest talents in Europe. Declan Rice is the obvious example in recent times, but the current group of academy players is full of individuals who could genuinely go on to play at the very top.

One such player is forward George Earthy, who was instrumental to the young Hammers’ FA youth Cup and U18 Premier League south triumph. 

His efforts were finally rewarded, as he managed to secure his first team debut against Freiburg on Thursday. It is a feeling he will never forget, but one he is still trying to wrap his head around.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet [that I’ve made my debut], but it’s a surreal moment,” he said. “I’ve been working for it a long time – my whole life pretty much – so to get it today, I’m absolutely buzzing,” the 19-year-old told the official site.

“I’m absolutely buzzing right now to get the chance to come on.”

“When it was 3-0, I was thinking maybe another goal would give me a chance! To come on then, I’m a bit speechless at the moment.”

“At 4-0 the manager told Ingsy [Danny Ings] and Kalvin [Phillips] to get ready and stripped, and I’m sitting there thinking it might not be me today. But then he turned around and said my name, and when we were waiting on the touchline he just said ‘enjoy it and go and play your stuff’.”

“It’s surreal being on the pitch at London Stadium playing with all these players around me, who I’ve watched for so many years.”

While they did not make an appearance, he was one of five youth players on the bench in the Europa League round of 16, and it meant that bit more to make his debut with his friends watching on. “Jacob Knightbrige, Lewis Orford, Divin Mubama and Kaelan Casey were all on the bench tonight, and we’ve all known each other since we were nine or ten. So to come up with each other and all be on the bench together is a surreal feeling for all of us.”

“It’s just the start really. I’ve got to keep working hard, hopefully get as many chances as I can, but today is a very special moment for me and my family. I want to keep it going now.”