West Ham United’s pre-season visit to Perth, Western Australia, links the football club with the late Dylan Tombides and the charity founded in his memory, DT38 Foundation.
Tombides was born in Perth in 1994, playing schoolboy football for local sides Perth Soccer Club and Stirling Lions before being scouted by West Ham, moving to London with his family and joining the Academy of Football at the age of 15 in 2009.
A prolific goalscoring record and outstanding all-round game saw the centre-forward quickly move through the ranks, make a Premier League matchday squad at 17 and his senior debut in an EFL Cup tie at the Boleyn Ground at 18.
Tragically, however, Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer while representing his country at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup and, despite his immense bravery and resilience and at one stage being given the all-clear, the disease returned and ultimately took his life in April 2014. He was just 20.
Following his death, Tombides’ No38 shirt was retired by the Club – an honour only previously bestowed on the late, great Bobby Moore, who was also diagnosed with testicular cancer as a young man – and his family created the DT38 Foundation in February 2015.
In the ensuring eight years, the charity – led by Dylan’s mother Tracylee and younger brother and fellow Stirling Lion and West Ham Academy player Taylor – has driven self-awareness and education campaigns in both countries to encourage the early detection of testicular cancer.
This year, Taylor will join the West Ham squad as a Club ambassador on their visit to his home city.
“I love coming back to Australia. Obviously, I get a very warm welcome from the football community and going to see the statue at the stadium and the club Dylan and I used to play for, so it’s always a lovely feeling coming home,” Taylor told Perth’s 91.3 SportFM.
West Ham take on A-League side Perth Glory (Saturday 15 July, 6pm AWST/11am BST) and Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur (Tuesday 18 July, 6pm AWST/11am BST) at Perth’s Optus Stadium.