Jamal Baptiste shares behind-the-scenes David Sullivan story with West Ham United exit close
West Ham United academy product Jamal Baptiste is set to leave the London Stadium and expressed his gratitude to majority shareholder David Sullivan for his help through a difficult spell.
The youngster made his debut for West Ham nearly two years ago at just 17 years old, but he’s made just one appearance since after recently being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition that affects the nerves, after realising something wasn’t right during pre-season.
And speaking to The Athletic [24 May], the academy product thanked Sullivan for allowing him to use his private doctor to help him through his situation.
“He has helped me massively,” says Baptiste. “I had glandular fever which later developed into Guillain-Barre syndrome (a rare and serious condition that affects the nerves).
“It was a difficult time in my life. Sullivan let me see his private doctor and I can’t thank him enough for actually believing me that there was something wrong in the first place.
“He trusted me, and I thankfully found out I had an issue which needed to be sorted out. I thanked him big time because he’s the one who pushed for the tests. I saw his doctor four to five times in the space of a week.”
The defender also confirmed that he will be seeking a new challenge to gain first-team football, after his return to training.
“Playing academy football from 15 to 19 is a long time. I’m ready for first-team football and to take the next step.
“I loved having the opportunity to play for West Ham; I’m a local lad and the club will always have a place in my heart. But I’m ready for the next step in my career and I feel like the best is yet to come.”
Given that Baptiste has spent much of his life at West Ham United and the help and support he’s received throughout his recent diagnoses, it certainly seems a tough decision to make to leave the club.
However, the youngster can simply not be faulted for taking charge of his own career trajectory.
If he feels he won’t be getting the first-team football he deserves, then seeking pastures new is totally understandable, especially with his contract at the club expiring this summer.
Credit to Sullivan for helping the defender through his difficult period, some owners are silent when it comes to matters of the club’s playing staff, only fixated on what goes on behind the scenes at boardroom level.
But, Sullivan certainly showed he’s a different, one who is present when players are faced with difficulties and it is such good news that Baptiste can continue his career, even if it is elsewhere.