Hammer Jamal Baptiste has revealed he has been suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome
The 19-year-old has long been viewed as a serious prospect at West Ham . Carlton Cole once compared him to Rio Ferdinand. He made his senior debut in 2021 when he was just 17. But, last summer, Baptiste was finding training sessions tougher than usual. In his own words, he’d run and feel like he was being “Held back by a sack of sand” as reported by the Athletic
He felt like he was “screaming” for help. Baptiste played the first game of the season for the under-21s and then made it clear he was in too much pain to keep going. In October, he finally sat in a consulting room ready to be examined by a doctor, courtesy of one man who made addressing his health a priority.
West Ham Chairman David Sullivan, listened to Baptiste.“He has helped me massively,” says Baptiste. “I had glandular fever which later developed into Guillain-Barre syndrome (a rare and serious condition that affects the nerves).“It was a difficult time in my life. Sullivan let me see his private doctor and I can’t thank him enough for actually believing me that there was something wrong in the first place.
“He trusted me, and I thankfully found out I had an issue which needed to be sorted out. I thanked him big time because he’s the one who pushed for the tests. I saw his doctor four to five times in the space of a week.”
The Athletic says Baptiste will leave West Ham in the summer when his contract expires and he now wants to spread awareness of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition that mainly affects the feet, hands and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness and pain.
He also wants to set the record straight. There have been suggestions he’s been absent from the under-23s due to disciplinary reasons — and he wants to dismiss those.
Last summer, Baptiste had started pre-season hoping to impress David Moyes. He had the pedigree for it. The England Under-20 international made his first-team debut in the FA Cup win against Doncaster Rovers in 2021. In September 2019, at the age of 15, he became the second-youngest player to play for the under-23s behind Jayden Fevrier, now at Colchester United, when he featured in a 1-0 Premier League International Cup victory over Valencia B. By February, Moyes said: “He’s had real problems. Problems I won’t discuss here — but real problems. He’s someone we really like as a boy, like as a player. He’s had difficult times and he’s not helped himself, I’ve got to say, partly as well.”