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My latest flame

Filed: Monday, 23rd July 2012
By: Willis Jamieson

Day 65 of the Olympic torch relay saw the flame spend its second full day in London. Carried by 163 torchbearers it made a 32 mile journey through the London Boroughs of Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Bexley.

Torchbearers included Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davies, former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and West Ham United's 18-year-old central defender, Kenzer Lee.

Willis Jamieson caught up with Kenzer after he completed his 300 yard leg of the relay along Dagenhamís Heathway to get his thoughts on the day, the Olympics and on his career so far at West Ham...

WJ: Hi Kenzer, How did that feel carrying the Torch today?

KL: It was a great experience, unbelievable the amount of people that turned up to line the route. There was a great atmosphere. When I got dropped off by the Torchbearers' coach to the waiting spot my family were there to get photos of me, then loads of others were crowding round to have their photos taken. it was an amazing experience.

WJ: How did you get chosen?

KL: My sister put my name forward first of all, which was accepted. Then I had to write an application about myself. Then it went through a number of other stages and eventually I was told I was successful; I was an Olympic torchbearer!

WJ: You said that scoring the winner for West Ham against Wolves in last seasonís FA Youth Cup was the best feeling ever Ė how does this compare?

KL: To be fair I think today just edged it. Carrying the Olympic torch is something I will never experience again, an experience Iíll always treasure. Hopefully I will end up scoring lots of times for West Ham, but today can never be repeated.

WJ: What are your views on West Ham getting the Olympic Stadium?

KL: It is a great stadium and think it would be good, it will hopefully mean weíd get more fans being able to see our matches. But if we donít get it then I think that would be good too as it would be sad to leave The Boleyn [Ground] as it has been our home for so long.

WJ: What are you looking forward to most about the Olympics?

KL: The track events interest me the most [but] the 100 metres and 200 metres competition is always good and Iím really looking forward to watching Usain Bolt perform.

WJ: Tell us about your life before you joined West Ham?

KL: I was quite late getting into football, I only really started playing at the age of 10. I played Sunday league football for Royal Falcons for a year and then I got scouted by West Ham while playing for my school team. I was playing in the year above and with that team we won the National Cup which is when I was notice by the West Ham scout.

WJ: Have you always been a central defender?

KL: No, I was a central midfielder when I was younger but as soon as I came to West Ham they put me in central defence.

WJ: What football team do you support?

KL: I grew up in Beckton so as a local boy, my team has always been West Ham.

WJ: Did you have any other clubs interested in you at that time?

KL: Well I had a trial at Millwall [laughs] and Tottenham were interested but as soon as West Ham said they wanted me I wasnít interested in any other clubs, whoever they were.

WJ: How did it make you feel having big clubs wanting you?

KL: Well I was quite young and of course it was exciting, but being young my dad was making the decisions and as I said as soon as West Ham showed interest I wasnít going to go anywhere else. I didnít know the scout was watching so after the game he spoke to my dad. On the way home Dad told me West Ham wanted me to go over there Ė it felt really good!

WJ: Which player do you most liken yourself to?

KL: I donít know really, I suppose Iíd like to think someone like Gary Cahill.

WJ: So how do you like your time at The Academy?

KL: Itís really good, a great atmosphere. The senior players help you and talk to you which helps you learn and progress. Iíve really enjoyed it.

WJ: Since Sam Allardyce has been at the club it seems the Academy players mix a lot more with the first team. How has that been for you?

KL: Itís a great experience to play in front of him. We all try our best to impress him, you have to treat each training session as if itís your last especially if he is watching as we all want to impress.

WJ: What under-21s do you think might make a good impression on him and make a step up to the first team?

KL: Well Rob Hall and Dan Potts are both quality and weíve already seen then a bit last season but I think weíll see more of them this time round. A few others have the chance of making an impression; Mathias Fanimo, Blair Turgott, Leo Chambers and are all excellent players - and you never know, hopefully myself.

WJ: Well with James Tomkins and Winston Reid being the only centre backs we have with first team experience you never know Ė do you think youíre in with a chance?

KL: Yeah, why not. I just need to make sure I perform in training, perform when the right people are watching me and if I do get the chance - maybe in the Carling Cup - then I need to take my chance and hopefully keep my place.

WJ: How would you like to see your career progress?

KL: Iíd love to get a run in the first team, maybe the Carling Cup is the most likely [option] first of all. I might end up going on loan, but I am working at getting into the first team as soon as I can really.

WJ: How do you think promotion will affect the younger players' chances of first team football?

KL: With more money in the Premier League itís likely we will buy experienced players so you think there is less of a chance, but if youíre good enough then you will make it.

WJ: @Kenzer_lee is your Twitter name Ė why should people follow you?

KL: [embarrassed laughter] I have no idea how to answer that. I guess if people want to they can.

WJ: When you make your first team debut, can I get another interview with you?

KL: Absolutely! 100 per cent.

* For more news and updates from the Academy, follow Willis on Twitter @WillisJamieson.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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