West Ham United defender Reece Oxford has revealed that Tottenham Hotspur turned down the chance to sign him permanently after releasing the England youth international at the age of 13. He became the Hammers' youngster ever player in the Europa League earlier this season, before making his top-flight debut in the 2-0 Premier League win over Arsenal during the opening weekend of the season.

The 16-year-old produced a performance far above his years against an all-star Arsenal team including Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla, but yet he could have been turning out for their north London rivals Tottenham.

Now captain of the England Under-17's, Oxford was let go by Tottenham in 2011 after the club failed to find his best position, before West Ham converted him from a striker into a defender. But after coming through the same academy that nurtured the talents of former England captains John Terry – now the Chelsea skipper – and Rio Ferdinand, Oxford is delighted with the move that saw him leave Tottenham.

"I was at Tottenham for a while but they did not want me and I went to West Ham, which was the best option for me. I was a striker back then," he told Sky Sports after the win at The Emirates Stadium. "West Ham have been giving the young players a chance who are coming through. The academy is great. They like to push players, we have a few youngsters playing in the U21s, which is good.

"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. I found out on Saturday night. The manager asked me to sit and talk to everyone to help get them into position, not to let Arsenal catch us out on the break, to keep it simple and not try to do too much. It was just an honour to play. The manager said my performance was good, it was a dream debut for me."