West Ham United have confirmed that Billy Bates has penned professional terms with the Club.
The centre-back signed his first professional contract at the Academy of Football at the Club’s Chadwell Heath training ground.
Bates, who joined the Hammers in 2020 from Norwich City, has recovered from injury to make 14 appearances in all competitions for the U18s this season, scoring two goals and helping the side to lift both the U18 Premier League South and the FA Youth Cup trophies.
“I’m over the moon to sign my professional contract,” Bates said. “I can’t believe it to be honest. I’m absolutely buzzing. It means that I’ve been rewarded for all the hard work that I’ve put in.”
“I’m buzzing for myself and for my family. My family were all in shock, but they were so happy for me at the same time. It was a great moment for everyone.”
“Obviously I’ve come back from a big injury this season and, as we go into the new season, I’m really hopeful of a year with no injuries. Then I’ll have the opportunity to show what I’m about.”
“For me, I just want to take any opportunities that I get with both hands. I want to show everyone at this Football Club what I am capable of.”
In agreeing terms with the Hammers, Bates becomes the sixth youngster to sign a professional contract with the Club this season, following Ollie Scarles, Callum Marshall, Gideon Kodua, Lewis Orford and Ryan Battrum.
“I know I speak on behalf of everyone in the Academy of Football when I say how delighted we are to see Billy sign his professional deal with West Ham United,” Academy Manager Kenny Brown said.
“Billy has endured a difficult journey in his young career so far, due a couple of significant injuries, but I have been impressed with his resolve, willpower and attitude in overcoming these setbacks to once again represent our Club.”
“The reaction from his teammates and coaches when Billy scored on his return from injury in September [against Aston Villa] shows just how popular a member of the U18s squad he is. I sincerely hope Billy can now kick-on and enjoy a productive career in Claret and Blue.”
Born in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, Bates had spells with both Leyton Orient and Norwich City as a schoolboy before moving to the Irons in September 2020.
The defender made three appearances in the U18s during his maiden season in Claret and Blue, but an ACL injury saw Bates miss the entirety of the 2021/22 season.
The youngster would finally return to action by making his first start for the U18s at home to Aston Villa in September, marking the occasion by netting his side’s fourth goal and helping the side fight back from a two-goal deficit to win 6-3.
Bates would also score in the 5-0 win away to Brighton & Hove Albion in late October and make ten appearances in U18 Premier League South. He would also make three appearances in the Premier League International Cup and came off the bench in the FA Youth Cup third round win at Sheffield United.