West Ham made heavy weather of the opening match of their latest European adventure as they had to come from behind to beat Serbian minnows Backa Topola 3-1.
James Ward-Prowse is an England international who plays in midfield for Premier League side West Ham.
Until August 2023, Ward-Prowse spent his entire career at Southampton, progressing through the youth ranks, debuting in 2011, to playing his 400th game in 2023.
Ward-Prowse has made a swift return to the top flight after joining West Ham for a reported fee of £30million on August 14, 2023. He created two assists for the Irons on his debut against Chelsea, and then scored his first goal for the club a week later against Brighton.
Premier League dreams
In 2011, Ward-Prowse made his debut for the Saints aged 16 against Crystal Palace in a League Cup match, before starting again in the FA Cup third round, scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win over Coventry.
In the 2012/13 campaign, he made his Premier League debut for the Saints in a 3-2 loss to Manchester City, where he performed admirably. Ward-Prowse continued to gather praise in his third match against Manchester United.
His terrific performances earned him a five-year contract extension with the club shortly after his 18th birthday.
On Mauricio Pochettino's arrival, he became a favourite of the manager for the 2013/14 season, playing in 34 of the 38 Premier League games.
Captain of the Saints
In 2015, James Ward-Prowse signed a five-year deal with Southampton, committing his future to his boyhood club.
In January 2021, Ward-Prowse made his 300th appearance for Southampton.
Southampton's relegation meant Ward-Prowse became hot property, and soon he was lured back to the Premier League by West Ham. He ended his Southampton career with 410 appearances and 55 goals under his belt.
He also scored 17 Premier League free-kicks for the Saints, just one behind the competition's highest tally set by former England skipper David Beckham in his Manchester United days.
Move to West Ham
On August 14, 2023 West Ham announced the signing of the 28-year-old Ward-Prowse for a reported fee of £30million.
In 2012, he made the step up to the U-19 team, for whom he played four times, and in 2013 joined the U-20s for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup
In 2013, Ward-Prowse was called up for the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification. He scored his first U-21 goal against Lithuania, a free-kick from 20 yards.
In 2016, he captained England U-21s to their first Toulon Tournament victory since 1994, by beating hosts France 2-1.
James Ward-Prowse has scored his first international goal 🏌️♂️ pic.twitter.com/IPBxSguNH0— Goal (@goal) March 25, 2021
As well as World Cup qualifiers, he returned for the European Championship qualifiers in 2019, and was named in the Euro 2020 provisional squad. However, he did not make the cut for the 26-man squad when it was announced on June 1, 2021.
James Ward-Prowse's net worth is believed to be £14million.