Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu is one of the many success stories of the PASE academy; the youngster made 13 appearances for the Wood first team before being snapped up by West Ham United.
The midfilder joined the PASE academy at the age of 16, having completed a successful trial at the club. Mpanzu then worked his way up through the age groups before making his rst team debut.
The youngster credits the academy with kick-starting his career, and praised the opportunities that it provided him with, both on-and-off the pitch.
“I began in the under 16s and worked hard to get my way into the first team picture,” Pelly began. “But it is not all about football in PASE, the academy offers you an education too and that was key for me, it was good to have both the education and the football.
“I completed a BTEC in Sports and Fitness; it is important to make sure that you have an education behind you and it certainly helped me along my way.”
“It is a great development, it helped me to get into the first team and I worked with some really good coaches, it helped both me and my career.”
Mpanzu has developed into a versatile and dependable midfielder, who can also play in defence, but when West Ham rst approached him, he was a fresh-faced youngster looking to make his way in the game.
“I was playing well for Boreham Wood under 17s and 18s and I had appeared for the first team a few times.
“I was just trying to work hard and play my own game really, but the manager told me that West Ham had shown some interest. It all moved very quickly from there and they ended up signing me, it was brilliant.
“It was great to hear of the interest from West Ham, 100%, they were a big Championship team at the time and I was delighted.
“Boreham Wood had put me in a great position to progress and because of that teams started showing an interest, but to have West Ham enquire and then sign me, was unbelievable, I was very grateful.”
Mpanzu made his first team debut for the Hammers in August 2013, in a 0-2 League Cup win at Burnley. Following the win, manager of the time, Sam Allardyce, reserved special praise for Mpanzu and two fellow debutants.
The former Bolton, Crystal Palace and Sunderland manager commented: “This was their big chance. Three players, all defenders, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Dan Potts and Leo Chambers, can feel very proud of themselves, what they’ve done.”
On the opportunity to play under such an esteemed coach, Mpanzu said: “Sam Allardyce is a brilliant manager, I knew all about him and what he had achieved at the likes of Bolton and West Ham, so for him to give me my rst start was exciting.
“It was in the League Cup against Burnley, it was a learning curve and it gave me a further chance to progress, it was a great experience.”
Following a successful loan spell at Luton Town, Mpanzu departed the Hammers to sign for the then Conference out t, achiev- ing promotion in his rst season at the club.
“I was sad to leave West Ham at the time, I wanted to have taken my chance. But I’d spent time with Luton on loan and they offered me a contract in the January, I felt that I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play regularly.
“We went on to win the Conference, so it proved to be the right decision; it was a great year for Luton and for myself.
“It is a great time to be at the club, we are now in League Two and we are trying to push on to League One this season. Luton is just an exciting place to be at right now, they are going places.
“We have just moved into a new training facility and they are also looking to build a new stadium in the near future, so it is all going well for Luton now and it is a great time for the club.
“Hopefully this season won’t be as upsetting as last season was, with us narrowly missing out on promotion, and getting knocked out in the playoff semi- nal.
“Top three is the aim for us this season, so hopefully we can keep pushing and make it into League One.”
The young midfielder and his teammates have certainly put themselves in a strong position at the beginning of the new season, with an 8-2 at Yeovil Town on the opening day of the campaign.
“Opening day of the season, everyone is a bit iffy and no one knows how the season is going to go. We didn’t start the match well and went one nil down, but we came back with a bang and put eight past them.”
Mpanzu made a goal scoring return to Boreham Wood this summer as Luton played the Wood in a pre-season friendly and he admits that it didn’t feel quite right scoring against his former side.
The 23-year-old commented: “It was a little weird to be scoring against them, Boreham Wood started off my career, so it did feel a bit weird. But, I guess at the end of the day I am just trying to get goals.
“It was great to come back and the pitch played brilliantly, it looked stunning. I really hope that the club do well this season and push on, I will be watching the scores closely.
“I would highly recommend PASE to anyone, PASE put me where I am today. It gives you an education and has you playing football at the same time, so you can’t really go wrong with it.”
Sign up for your trial in the PASE academy, for your chance to become the next success story!
Apply here: https://www.borehamwoodfootballclub.co.uk/how-to-apply-pase/