Reece Oxford: West Ham teenager was rejected by Tottenham
West Ham's 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford says Tottenham turned down the chance to sign him before he joined their Premier League rivals.
Oxford made his top-flight debut in a surprise 2-0 victory at Arsenal on the opening weekend of the new season.
He joined West Ham at under-13 level after leaving Spurs and is now the club's youngest ever first-team player.
Oxford said Spurs "did not want" him, adding: "I went to West Ham, which was the best option for me."
The teenager described the Hammers' youth academy as "great" and said "they like to push players".
He added: "West Ham have been giving the young players who are coming through a chance.
"Last season I was on the bench a few times, so I expected to be around the team again this season, but not starting against Arsenal."
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic was confident Oxford had the mentality to cope, saying the teenager would even be untroubled by facing Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.
"If Messi was in front of me, I'd be more fazed than Reece," Bilic said.
Oxford helped restrict the Gunners to few clear-cut opportunities and had the best successful pass percentage in the match - 95%.
Bilic added on Sky Sports: "People were asking: 'Are you sure he is 16?'
"It was going to be a risk but he has got something. I am very proud of him. He is a part of this new generation."
West Ham academy manager Terry Westley told BBC Radio 5 live that Oxford captained the under-21s last season aged 15 and said he is "thirsty" to test himself against the "hardest opponents possible".
Westley credited Oxford's mental strength on the "influence at home", adding that his mum was "very tough and strong with him".
He added: "He didn't join Tottenham, obviously he lives very close to the Arsenal training ground and is an Arsenal boy - so we're delighted we've got him."
|Youngest Premier League players|
|Matthew Briggs (Fulham v Middlesbrough, 2007)||16 years, 68 days|
|Izzy Brown (West Brom v Wigan, 2013)||16 years, 117 days|
|Aaron Lennon (Leeds v Tottenham, 2003)||16 years, 128 days|
|Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Aston Villa v Sunderland, 2015)||16 years, 176 days|
|Jose Baxter (Everton v Blackburn, 2008)||16 years, 191 days|
|Gary McSheffrey (Coventry v Aston Villa, 1999)||16 years, 198 days|
|Reece Oxford (West Ham v Arsenal, 2015)||16 years, 237 days|
|Jack Robinson (Liverpool v Hull, 2010)||16 years, 250 days|
|Jack Wilshere (Arsenal v Blackburn, 2008)||16 years, 255 days|
|Mark Platts (Sheffield Wednesday v Wimbledon, 1996)||16 years, 264 days|