Jarrod Bowen interview: Joining West Ham and targeting Premier League survival

Manchester City's Premier League fixture against West Ham has been postponed due to "extreme weather conditions" associated with Storm Ciara.

Jarrod Bowen signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham

Jarrod Bowen's phone started pinging on the Thursday evening, a flood of messages from friends, family members and acquaintances, all struggling to contain their excitement and all asking the same questions. Were the stories true? And if so, which club was he going to join?

For 24 hours, Bowen decided to ignore them.

He ignored them when he went to say his goodbyes at Hull's training ground on Friday morning. He ignored them when he travelled over to Leeds for the first part of his West Ham medical. And he ignored them during the long train journey to London, when the clock was ticking down and the move was still hanging in the balance.

"Even my mum," Bowen tells Sky Sports with a smile. "I felt so bad blanking her, but I didn't want to tell her anything in case nothing happened. As soon as I signed the contract, about 10 minutes before the deadline, I got straight on the phone to her, then to my mates. I had a lot of replying to do. Actually, I've only just got to the back-end of it now."

It is a week later, and on a sunny afternoon at West Ham's east London headquarters, shortly after his third training session since becoming the biggest signing of Deadline Day at £25m, Bowen is still taking it all in.

"It all happened quite quickly. I think the West Ham bid arrived on Thursday evening, so I woke up on Friday excited to see what the day brought.

"I knew there had been other teams interested in January, but West Ham were the only ones that I knew had put a concrete offer in. The others, like Crystal Palace, came from nowhere a little bit and I wasn't aware that they had actually made an official bid.

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Watch Bowen's best goals for Hull this season

"In the end, it was a no-brainer to join West Ham, but I still needed to take five minutes to myself because it's a big moment for anyone to move club, especially off the pitch when it involves moving to a big city. You've got to take every single factor into consideration because it's a big decision in your life. It's one that I've made now and I'm very happy."

Bowen eventually put pen to paper inside the London Stadium, where he had a chance to have a look around the ground and even introduce himself to manager David Moyes, who took time away from his preparations for West Ham's meeting with Brighton to meet him personally.

"The size of the club was a big attraction, so was the new stadium," he says. "I was able to walk out on the pitch on the Friday night and get a sense of just how big it is. Working under this gaffer as well. He's got so much experience and he's worked with and improved a lot of young players.

"Then there's the squad that is here. I'm still young and I know I'm not the complete package yet, so I thought I could learn off them. These are players who have played at the top for however many years and that's not a coincidence. There were a lot of positive factors."

Jarrod Bowen signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham
Image: Bowen signed a five-and-a-half-year contract at West Ham

Nevertheless, Bowen is under no illusions about the situation he is walking into. He was back at the London Stadium on Saturday to watch the error-strewn 3-3 draw with Brighton, a result which left West Ham a point from safety, but he is bullish about their survival prospects ahead of a possible debut against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, live on Sky Sports on Sunday.

"Sometimes you find yourself in positions you don't expect," he says. "We are there at the moment, but you only have to look around the squad, the coaching staff and everyone to see that there is plenty of quality and Premier League experience. They know what it takes to stay in this division.

"It's a really good group and the lads have been welcoming. Sometimes you feel like the new kid at school when you don't really know anyone and you don't know the surroundings, but everyone has made me feel very welcome and that goes for all the staff as well."

I'm not coming in here and demanding a starting place. I know I've to earn it, and when I get the opportunity, it's down to me to score goals because I know that's what they have brought me in to do.
Jarrod Bowen

Bowen arrives at West Ham with a burgeoning reputation and a stellar scoring record. In total, he hit 54 goals in 131 appearances for Hull, mostly from wide positions. Having shone in the second tier, however, the pressure is on the 23-year-old to hit the ground running in the Premier League.

"The manager said he had watched all my goals, all my games, so he knows what I'm about and he knows that I like to score goals, but I'm not coming in here and demanding a starting place," he says. "I know I've to earn it, and when I get the opportunity, it's down to me to score goals because I know that's what they have brought me in to do.

Jarrod Bowen is wanted by Crystal Palace with his Hull deal expiring in the summer
Image: Bowen scored 17 goals for Hull in the first half of the season

"I'm looking forward to the responsibility. I had it at Hull, but this is a whole new level. I'm going to have to get used to the pace of the Premier League and the technical side of it. I had a little taste of it at Hull before they were relegated in 2017, but I've developed a lot as a player since then. It was the right time to move and I feel like I'm ready."

Bowen on leaving Hull

"I had five-and-a-half years there, starting in the youth teams and working my way up. Obviously I'm massively grateful to Hull for where I've got today, but I think it was the perfect time to move. I felt like I’d done all I could there."

Bowen's speed, tenacity and eye for goal have marked him out as one of the most exciting young players in the Championship over the last three seasons - before West Ham, there was interest from Tottenham, Arsenal and a long list of other clubs - but his route to the top has not been easy.

In fact, at 16, he was close to giving up on the game altogether.

"I went to Cardiff on trial for six weeks and felt I did really well, but then they turned around and said they weren't going to sign me," he says. "It was a bitter pill to swallow because Hereford, where I was playing at the time, were scrapping their youth team, so I didn't have any other options.

"At that point, I was just like, 'I can't be bothered with this', but luckily Hereford's youth team started back up again. They had to ask me a few times to go back - I took some persuading because I was ready to give up on it - but in the end I agreed to start playing again."

Tomas Soucek of West Ham United is challenged by Dale Stephens of Brighton
Image: West Ham surrendered a two-goal lead against Brighton

It was fortunate that he did because soon enough his youth coach, Peter Beadle, had been promoted to the role of first-team manager and Bowen was featuring for the senior side at Conference level. "People say you need luck in football and I guess that was mine," he says.

Hereford were in dire straits financially, but by the time the club was liquidated later that year, Bowen's performances had earned him his move to Hull. "I went from not playing football at all to getting a contract with a club who were in the Premier League at the time," he says.

I'm playing in the Premier League and my first two games could be against Manchester City and Liverpool. I don't think it gets much better than that.
Jarrod Bowen

Bowen admits he never imagined that he would end up where he is now during his teenage years - "not for a minute," he says - but he attributes his work ethic and mental toughness to that difficult start in the game.

"My dad has got a famous saying that we have no reverse gear, so we're always going forward," he says. "I've come over so many obstacles over the years, so now when things get chucked at me, I know that I can get through to the other side with the mindset that I've got. I've grown accustomed to it and I've used it to my advantage."

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West Ham welcomed Bowen with a video on Twitter

Bowen is still holed up in a hotel for now as he waits to move into his own place in London - "I'm living out of two suitcases, but at least I've got my PlayStation," he says with a chuckle - but he has already impressed his new team-mates and coaches in training and he is wide-eyed with excitement at the prospect of visiting the Etihad Stadium, Anfield and the Emirates Stadium in his first month as a West Ham player.

"It's the best, isn't it?" he says. "I'm playing in the Premier League and my first two games could be against Manchester City and Liverpool. I don't think it gets much better than that. It's what I always dreamed of as a kid.

"This is what everyone works for and where everyone wants to be. It's going to be different, I know that. It's a different level, everything is new and I know I've got to step up again. But I've come a long way to get this far and I believe in myself. I just want to repay the faith West Ham have shown in me on the pitch and get us out of the situation we are in."

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