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All hail Antonio!

RAPID RISE: Michail Antonio

MICHAIL ANTONIO'S rise and rise continues. The West Ham star's football development took another progressive twist when he was called up for the full England side for the World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on September 4.

Antonio, 25, who joined West Ham from Nottingham Forest in September 2015, began his career in non-league football with Tooting and Mitcham United.

"I think he's in outstanding form," new Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce told the FA website."This is another lad with a great journey - it's a fantastic journey that he's been on, from non-league to now an international call-up.

"He scored nine goals in his first season and he's a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goalscorer."

Early this year the Voice of Sport described Antonio as the 'perfect example' as his club career finally blossomed.

The attacking midfielder has been a revelation since getting his first team opportunity with the Hammers and his manager, Slaven Bilic, is full of praise for a player who has had to bide his time to make his breakthrough.

Bilic said of his £7 million summer acquisition: "Michail probably dreamed about the Premier League for five or six years and then he had to wait for his chance.

"Now he's become a player of massive importance to this club. He is enjoying it and we are enjoying it too. He deserves it all. He deserves it for his work rate, his attitude and how he is on a daily basis.''

After initially struggling to earn first-team football after his move from Nottingham Forest he has now become a vital member of the West Ham first-team.

Antonio’s top flight status is a far cry from when he started his career at humble Tooting & Mitcham in 2007. He also had spells at Cheltenham and Colchester.

He was to truly announce himself while at Reading before joining Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest.

However, the Premier League star continues to remember where he started and also support players at grassroots level.

Antonio was at the December launch of the innovative Hyde Development League in Brent, north west London. He was there to endorse the league and in his role as ambassador for the Guy Mascolo team.

Otis Roberts, of the Jason Roberts Foundation who organize the increasingly popular Hyde League, told this newspaper that Antonio is now seen as a role model.

“He was fantastic with the young people, “ Roberts said. “He’s gone the long way round with his career a bit like Jamie Vardy at Leicester. ''

On August 21, Antonio created history when he scored his club's winning goal at their new London Stadium home against Bournemouth.

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