Michail Antonio is closing in on Paolo Di Canio’s goal at West Ham despite starting his career as a right-back, striker delighting fans with the talent to score against rivals and crazy celebrations

When Michail Antonio steps out at London Stadium on Monday, hoping to become West Ham United’s top scorer in the Premier League, it will be hard to remember his rocky start at the club …

… When he was struggling to get into the Hammers team as a full-back.

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Michail Antonio has come a long way since his days as a full-back at West Ham

Antonio only needs one more goal to overtake Paolo Di Canio as the club’s top Premier League scorer, and could make history against Leicester City on Monday night.

The 31-year-old Londoner arrived at West Ham as a winger – he hadn’t really played up front since his days at Tooting and Mitcham United in the Isthmian League.

He joined Non-League Reading in 2008 for £ 25,000 as a skinny 18-year-old but, after four League One loans with Cheltenham Town, Colchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton, he was unable to find his in the Royals’ first team.

Sheffield on Wednesday decided to sign Antonio permanently and, after a few decent seasons at Steel City, Nottingham Forest bet on the wide man despite a few injured seasons.

Antonio gets kicked off the ball by Luke Freeman while playing for Reading

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Antonio gets kicked off the ball by Luke Freeman while playing for Reading

Their bet paid off and his 14 league goals and 14 assists in the 2014-15 campaign meant West Ham were happy to shell out around £ 7million for his services, after just one season with Forest.

Over 150 appearances [159 to be precise] and six positions later, Antonio could now overtake the West Ham Di Canio icon in the club’s scorers’ standings.

And so, it is ludicrous to think that he was deployed as an auxiliary right-back at times during his career in the east of the capital.

His evolution into a striker who has scored 47 times for West Ham in the top flight since 2015 arguably started under Manuel Pellegrini in 2019, as the Chilean boss tried unsuccessfully to use the 31-year-old in the middle.

Antonio was used at right-back by former boss Slaven Bilic

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Antonio was used at right-back by former boss Slaven Bilic

He did start out as a center-forward, however, when David Moyes took charge of the club for the second time in December of the same year, as Antonio ended the 2019-20 campaign in sensational form, scoring 9 goals in 15 games to help. the club avoids relegation.

One of his goals that season is predictable against Tottenham and, since joining one of Spurs’ local rivals, he has loved playing against North Londoners.

He has scored five goals in nine games against them, including one in his side’s 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s side last season, and he became the first opposing player to score at Tottenham’s new stadium. .

Antonio is at the level of West Ham Di Canio legend as the club's top scorer in the Premier League

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Antonio is at the level of West Ham Di Canio legend as the club’s top scorer in the Premier League

The celebration

Antonio’s ‘unique’ celebration at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

It was a goal that sparked one of his many weird and wonderful goal celebrations – this one seemed to be him on horseback, though it could have been misinterpreted as one of many things.

He also celebrated by doing the running man, the macarena, the worm, stroking the new burgundy carpet at the London stadium and rolling around on the floor like Homer Simpson. He is a man of many talents.

West Ham fans are hoping to see another classic Antonio celebration when they face Leicester on Monday.

Not only because it could help their team secure their second win of the season, but also so that they can officially say Antonio is one of their top scorers right back / left back / left winger / right winger / attackers of all. time.

It’s a bit of a mouthful, we know, but he’s come all the way to wear West Ham’s number nine jersey.

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