PIERRE Ekwah always felt he was good enough to break into the first team at West Ham, but the Hammers' loss was Sunderland's gain as the fast-improving midfielder looks to fulfil his lofty ambitions on Wearside.

The 21-year-old never made a senior appearance for the Londoners but has shown his quality since moving to Sunderland and was the two-goal star as Tony Mowbray's side hammered promotion favourites Southampton at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Mowbray said afterwards he believed Ekwah can go on to become the "complete player" - which begs the question, why did the Hammers let him go?

“I just see it as good recruitment by Sunderland," said Ekwah.

"I always believed I was good enough to break through there but maybe I was not ready.

"The gaffer there obviously had his reasons for me not to be playing. But I am a great believer in fate. My path was Sunderland and I was meant to be here.

“Hopefully, everyone will see that I can fulfil my ambitions. One day, when I am putting my boots back in the changing room for the last time, I will be able to look back and say, yes, I am fulfilled.”

One of those ambitions is to play for France. Ekwah is aiming high.

He said: “I hope so. There are many many things I want to achieve and that is one, I would love to look back and say I have done that."

Sunderland boss Mowbray has urged Ekwah to show a "nasty" side and be "a bit more Roy Keane" to ensure he fulfils his huge potential.

The midfielder said: “I definitely know about the man (Keane) and have seen videos so yes, I definitely have to learn from things like that .

"The gaffer can keep shouting at me and I will keep doing what he asks me to do. Perhaps I am a bit more laid back than Roy Keane

"Of course, getting stuck in, having that bit of steel, things like that are what I need to add to my game. I think I am getting better at that and he says I am. It is definitely something we keep working on."


Despite the fact he's only played 21 games since arriving on Wearside, Ekwah already feels like his game has developed enormously since he joined Sunderland.

“You can talk about inexperience but the only way to get experience is by playing games," he says.

"The staff here believe that you have to be playing to get better. I already feel miles better than when I first came here and that is just in six and seven months and that is because the gaffer is putting me on the pitch.

“Now I do not feel young and inexperienced. There are players around me who are younger. When you look at the likes of Dan Neil, Dan Ballard, for their age they have a lot of games under their belt.

"We may be young of age but not as footballers. That is what makes us a good team.”