Halajko leaving Leicester to become West Ham U23s boss
Written by Simon Austin — June 14, 2019
DMITRI HALAJKO is leaving Leicester City to become Under-23s coach at West Ham as part of a major overhaul at the Hammers Academy.
- Halajko, who has been Head of Player Development at Leicester for the last two years, will replace Liam Manning with the U23s. Manning is leaving to join New York City as Academy Coaching Director.
- Ricky Martin, who was appointed Operations and Development Director in January, has been promoted to Academy Manager. He replaces Terry Westley, who had been in post for five years but has been part-time for the last five months.
- And Kevin Keen has resigned as Southend United assistant to replace Jack Collinson as U18s lead. Collison is leaving after two years to take up a role at an unnamed club in the United States.
Before joining Leicester in July 2017, Halajko was U21s and U23s coach at Norwich City and a coach educator for the Football Association. He worked alongside Martin at Norwich when the current West Ham Academy Manager was Technical Director there.
Keen played 278 games for the Hammers and spent nine years at the club as a youth, reserve and first team coach from 2002 to 2011. He has also been first team coach at Liverpool and Crystal Palace, manager of Colchester, assistant at Reading and West Brom, and Head of Academy Coaching at Fulham.
“Kevin brings great experience and a fantastic coaching pedigree, along with a deep understanding of West Ham United and the values that are rooted within the Academy," Martin said.
“He is highly-respected throughout the game after many years as both a player and a coach at the very top level, and he will be a fantastic influence and guidance for the young players who are coming through into the Under-18s, which really is a crucial stage of their development."
Collison, 30, joined the Hammers staff as U16s coach before being promoted to the U18s. He added: “For me to step away from an incredible role and a big job, it had to be something special and unique.
"An opportunity has come up overseas that will give me the chance to discover a completely different culture, and a chance to give my family a new and exciting life experience at the same time.”
Westley, 59, was Academy Manager at Birmingham City under current Hammers' owners David Gold and David Sullivan before joining West Ham in July 2014. He will now take up a Technical Director role overseas.
He said: “I leave West Ham United feeling huge pride and with great memories of my time here.
"We have made such positive strides forward in the last five years to modernise and evolve the Academy, ensuring that West Ham’s long-standing reputation as one of the finest developers of young players continues to shine.
“It was an extremely proud moment earlier this season for me to see four Academy graduates - Declan Rice, Grady Diangana, Conor Coventry and Joe Powell – playing together for the first team in the League Cup tie against Macclesfield Town.
"That gave everyone in the Academy such huge satisfaction, validation that our model is working, and belief that more young players will follow them in the future. My thanks goes to our immensely supportive Manager, Manuel Pellegrini, and his staff, for giving the young players their opportunities.
“It has also been a huge satisfaction to witness the opening of our fantastic new Academy facility at Chadwell Heath in early April. Everyone who has visited so far has commented on how it has transformed the environment for the benefit of our young players, and I have no doubt that it will be a huge asset to the club in the years to come.
“Myself and the Board were both in agreement that the time is now right for a change. I am looking forward to new adventures with my family and to stepping away from the constant and daily demand of a full-time role within an Academy, and now it is time for someone else to take the reins going into a very exciting period for the club."
Gold and Sullivan added: “The Academy is now in its healthiest position for many years, and the foundations that Terry has helped to put in place will ensure that we can continue to build on our recent success in producing homegrown stars for the first team, as well as attracting the best young players in the country.”
West Ham placed sixth in our 2017/18 Academy Productivity Rankings.