West Ham ended the 2019/20 season losing five points from relegation, having lost half of their matches during that campaign.
“I think people are seeing West Ham for what West Ham is about now,” Bowen told CNN Sport’s Darren Lewis.
He adds, “We’ve progressed fast for two and a half years and we’ve finished in the top six and we’re on our way to finishing in the top six again, maybe even reaching the Europa League final.” “People should think about West Ham differently now.
“Just go show what happens when the manager is [David Moyes] He comes and brings a group of players who are 100% committed and… they want to work for each other. “
European League dream
West Ham’s Europa League journey to the quarter-finals has been fantastic.
Next, West Ham defeated French club Lyon 4-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, thanks to crucial goals by Craig Dawson, Declan Rice and Bowen – despite playing with ten men during the second half of the first leg.
“Having this opportunity against Leon and beating them and going forward was the best feeling ever,” Bowen says.
It looks as if the stars have allied themselves in a draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, given that the last time both teams met was the last West Ham semi-final in Europe in 1976.
Like West Ham, Eintracht Frankfurt is a team to be reckoned with, having previously beaten the favorites Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the quarter-finals.
“We should be afraid of them, but I think we are,” Bowen says of the lottery. He adds, “You don’t want to get ahead of yourself too much…You’re two games away from the final. It’s an exciting time, personally I’m feeling the hype.” “It’s an upcoming special game.”
West Ham have never played in the Champions League, and their last European victory was when they won the Intertoto Cup in 1999.
Bowen says his team will not stop seeking Champions League qualification. With four games remaining, West Ham are eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
“People who write us off is great to me because you love proving people wrong all the time,” Bowen says. “As a team, we will always fight and want to be fourth, and there is no reason why we can’t.”
“Hard work beats talent”
As a young man, Bowen was told he wasn’t good enough to play professional football.
“Honestly, I think what I went through with experiences and didn’t know where I was going to be, it was just a case of enjoying football and knowing what was going to happen,” Bowen says. “I had a slice of luck, people know the people in the game.”
He eventually broke into the first team of non-league side Hereford United when he was 17, but his ambitions took another blow when his local club financially collapsed in 2014.
When asked how he paid, he said, “I’m thinking only for the love of the game and the love of…playing in my childhood club.”
He adds, “I didn’t have any bills or nothing to pay, but you know, you look at some of the guys who were playing… and they had mortgages and kids to pay for. It must have been hard for them.” “I had no fear or responsibility.”
At the age of 17 Bowen signed with Hull City, where he played for the Under-18 team for a few years.
“My family didn’t want me to move away at 17, but to move that far at such a young age, I learned a lot from life experiences and matured off the field, and I think maturity came into the field as well,” Bowen told West Ham’s website. There are no obstacles that seem too big.”
“Looking back now, I’m glad I got away from home.”
He longed to play for Hull City’s first team, but saw his hopes challenged by more experienced strikers, including Adama Diomande and Nikica Jelavic.
Bowen finally appeared in the Premier League with Hull in August 2016, despite the club’s relegation in May 2017.
Bowen spent a few more years at Hull improving his playing style, before signing with West Ham three years later.
Reflecting on his journey, he tells CNN, “I think hard work beats talent.”
“It’s about taking your chance and I think you can have all the luck in the world, but I think if you’re not ready to get ready when you want to, you’re not going to do a good job.
“I think[it]just shows the mental strength that I have and the flexibility that I have,” he says. “No matter how many times something goes wrong, there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.
“I look back now and I think thank God I kept playing and put my mind to it and had my family around me to support me, to get me where I am now.”
Like father like son
The West Ham striker credits much of his success to his father, Sam Bowen.
According to the club’s website, Sam, a retired footballer from outside the Welsh League, was close to signing with West Ham at the request of then manager Harry Redknapp.
He enjoyed his career as a striker for clubs including Worcester City, Forest Green Rovers and Leominster Town.
“I mean, he did everything,” Bowen says of his father. “He’s seen the successes, the lows of my career, so you know, he’s everything to me and he’s been there every step of the way for me.
“As much as he praises me, he’s also my number one critic too. You know when I don’t play well or something, he’ll be the first to tell me. I’d rather he just tell me how good I am.”
Growing up on a farm in Herefordshire, England, Bowen has memories of pushing concrete wheelbarrows up and down potato fields – an exercise that is indicative of his father’s unique training style.
“It’s a little different than what I used to see before the season…but this is my dad, he’s old school. He’s different, and he doesn’t want me to be like everyone else.”
Bowen explains that his father’s motto is to have “reverse gear.”
“No matter how many times you get hit, it’s about pushing forward,” Bowen adds.
“I think that has been very good for my brain as well; I am resilient, I have never been defeated, I think it is just hard work and I think that is why the fans take note of the work I do on the pitch… and I think that came at a young age.”
The underdog turned into a rising star
Rising through the ranks of English football, Bowen has been likened to Premier League strikers like Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, both of whom later achieved success after their days as underdogs in the early stages of their careers.
“I think the talent they have is unquestionable, they’re incredible strikers, but I think the hard work they’ve done and the personality they have within themselves drive them even more,” Bowen says.
“I think the goals he scores, you know, when he gets the chance, nine times out of 10 he’s at the back of the net, which is the work he does off the ball as well,” Bowen says.
“When we played against them, I didn’t watch him when I was playing because it would be wrong to say, but I did notice the work he does off the ball.”
Salah has scored 30 goals for Liverpool across the English Premier League and Champions League this season, as well as making 13 assists.
“I think consistency is a big word. I think especially in (position) attacking, people expect you to score goals or set up goals for your teammates and that comes with being a striker, so scoring definitely helps with confidence,” Bowen says of Salah. “I think it just comes from the standards you set within yourself.”
West Ham won the Premier League at home against Liverpool 3-2 this season, having lost the match at Anfield 1-0.
“I think you look at all the front three that Liverpool have and the work they do off the ball and we played with them especially the way they pressed from the front as well, the front three is not just a case that they don’t defend; they just attack. They attack and defend and you know, they get on. their rewards from that.”
From scoring nine goals in the Premier League this season, to picking up three winners of West Ham’s Europa League campaign, Bowen has had an unforgettable season.
“The dream is now a reality,” Bowen says. “Growing up, it was ‘I want to be a footballer,’ it’s football or nothing really.” “It’s one hell of a ride and it went really fast.
“I blinked an eye and quickly re-introduced for eight years, but (I) love every minute of it.”
But there is one goal that he did not remove from his list.
“Of course playing for England is definitely a goal for me, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Bowen told CNN. “I think I’m on the right track, so whether that happens now or in the future, I don’t know, all I can do is play my game and do everything I can to try to please the England manager. [Gareth Southgate]. “
“Playing for your country in the best tournament; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it, so why not? It’s still a long way to go but that’s the dream.”