There is a 37-year gap between Albion manager Chris Hughton and his new striker, Chuba Akpom, but they are bonded by an area of fenced-off tarmac at an inner city school in East London.

It is called 'the cage' and the fence is to stop windows being smashed in the surrounding houses.

Different eras maybe, but Hughton and Akpom both developed their skills in an environment far removed from the rolling landscape and ultra-modern facilities of Albion's Lancing training complex, where they will be working together for the rest of the Seagulls' Championship promotion challenge this season.

Albion's canny leader and the 21-year-old loan signing from Arsenal are shining examples for the 1,300 students, aged 11 to 18, at their old Roman Catholic school, St Bonaventure's in Newham, that a rough and tough upbringing does not have to be a disadvantage.

They are not alone. St Bon's, as it is better-known, also produced Jermain Defoe, former Albion loan signing Martin Ling and wingers John Chiedozie and Nigel Callaghan.

Paul Halliwell, head teacher since 2010, told The Argus: "We are very proud. We have followed Chris's and Chuba's careers with a great deal of interest.

"Both of them are incredible role models for the boys here. Not only are they talented managers and players, they are also incredibly nice and decent people. They give a lot back.

"The London borough of Newham is a tough place for children to grow up. There is a lot of poverty, a lot of inner city issues.

"Both Chris and Chuba have showed that you can be successful when you have come from that background. Chuba grew up in school with Chris Hughton being one of his role models."

Hughton's influence on Akpom's promising career is confirmed by Albion's latest signing.

"When I was in school there used to be picures of the gaffer there," Akpom (below) said. "I always tried to keep up-to-date with what he was doing.

The Argus:

"The kids used him like an inspiration and motivation. I did as well. Seeing someone come from the same area and the same school as me to become such a big and successful person.

"It's nice to be here working with him. I never thought it would happen so soon.

"It is a bit strange, but I'm glad it has happened, glad that we can both relate. I'm looking forward to working with him."

The work they do will be on manicured grass. It is a three-mile trek from St Bon's to find a grass pitch at Wanstead Flats, where the school stages a tournament which Hughton (below) has often attended.

The Argus:

Halliwell said: "We don't have any sports facilities. Our kids have to do all of their P.E. on concrete or over at West Ham park.

"Both of them learnt their skills in what we call 'the cage', which is the fenced off area we've got that protects our neighbours' windows.

"As with a lot of London schools, we are completely locked in, with houses all around."

During last season's loan spell at Hull, which ended in promotion back to the Premier League via the play-offs, Akpom had a spat with Steve Bruce, now in charge of Aston Villa, one of the rivals Albion fought off for his signature.

He shook his head in disbelief and threw off his gloves in the direction of the bench afer he was substituted in a win at Reading.

Bruce accused him of spitting his dummy out and throwing his toys out of the pram when things don't go his way. Akpom apologised for his actions on Twitter. 

Halliwell said: "Chris will show him you don't need to be a feisty player in order to be successful. 

"You are never going to meet a nicer young man off the pitch than Chuba. He's soft spoken, he's very gentle-natured, wasn't an ounce of trouble in the classroom or on the playground, but when you put him on the field of play that gladatorial element comes out in his character.

"Watching him play at Hull, he acted in some ways that appeared to be completely out-of-character.

"So Chris will hopefully be able to pour oil on the sometimes difficult waters of Chuba's playing career and I think that will get the best out of him, because he's an intelligent young man.

"If he can start to use his brain a litle bit more on he field of play, he will be difficult to play against."

The mild-mannered manager and precocious young goalscorer, uniquely aligned by their backgrounds, could be a perfect match.