Noni Madueke: My journey – part one | News | Official site

In the first of two features with Noni Madueke examining the football path that has led him to Chelsea, the young winger looks back on his early days playing youth football in London and explains why the self-confidence he inherited from his father has been crucial to his success.

Although Noni Madueke was signed from abroad and left PSV Eindhoven for Chelsea in January, he has always called London home, having grown up in the northern suburb of Barnet and even having family ties to the Blues.

“I have two Chelsea fans in my family,” he explained. ‘My little sister, her middle name is Chelsea, and my brother, so it’s a Chelsea house. Now there are three Chelsea fans, also thanks to me!

He caught the football bug early on, idolizing a young Cristiano Ronaldo and dreaming of starring in the Premier League like him, leaving Noni with only one thing on his mind and giving us an early glimpse of the confidence and determination he feels was so important. . .

‘I knew I wanted to be a footballer when I was six or seven years old. I think it just came from being a kid and falling in love with the game of soccer, and then recognizing that you’re actually good at it. As soon as I found out it could be a job, I was like, “Bob, you’re the guy, that’s me!”

‘I was spotted playing for my local team. It was in a tournament and I didn’t even play that well, to be fair. But the scout said that I was extremely agile, had very good balance, was quick with an eye for goal. That was the first comment I received from a headhunter. I went to Crystal Palace and auditioned for a week or two and that was it. They signed me and that was the beginning of my journey.

Of course, having to cross the capital to south London to train and play with Palace wasn’t ideal for a child, but Madueke was determined to seize his opportunity with both hands now that it had arrived, and he credits his time with the Eagles as a help. transform that initial ambition into the belief that he could achieve his goal.

‘It was difficult. She used to drive all the way there and come back very late. It was about an hour and a half to get there from where I lived. It was difficult, but when you’re a kid like that and you can play for an academy at a Championship or Premier League club, I didn’t mind it at all. I just wanted to be a footballer.

‘It was crazy, that’s the first step, you have a foot in the door. For any boy who wants to become a soccer player, it is an unreal feeling. At that age you think you are a professional footballer and it’s just a dream come true. I remember being so excited about the test and when I went there I realized that it was actually good, that he could play there.”

However, it was later that he really began to gain confidence in his own ability to make the cut as a professional footballer. Having been given the chance to continue his career closer to home, by joining Tottenham’s academy at Under-12 level, he quickly rose through the ranks at Spurs.

It was then, as he moved through the age groups, approaching the crunch period when players go full-time at 16 and things get more serious and professional by the year, that belief became a certainty.

“I think I realized that I could be a professional footballer between the ages of 13 and 16. Before that, I really believed in myself, so I told myself every day that I was going to be a footballer, but around I feel that 13-16 is the age where you start to think “am I really good enough?” It starts to get a little more real.

“In the really young age groups, all the top players are scoring six or seven goals a game and you look at someone else and you can be better than him at the time, but then in six to 18 months he’s much better than you. So that I feel like you can’t really measure it at that age, but when you get to 14, 15, 16, then you can start to think “I might have a chance here.”

‘When I was around 15 or 16, that was it, I knew I would be a professional footballer. I thought it was impossible not to be a professional footballer! Much of this is a gut feeling. You’re probably the best player, even playing a year against older players, and I was playing for England so that’s probably when I thought ‘I can do this’.

‘But it’s not as simple as A, B, C. A lot of people who play for the best academies, who play for England, don’t make the leap. But I knew I would take the leap just because of my mindset. I wouldn’t let myself not do it.

That determination to succeed certainly seems to have served Madueke well during his early career and later as he carved his own path through the professional game that has now taken him to Stamford Bridge.

In the full-back’s opinion, it is something he has always had, and he considers it an essential attribute for anyone who wants to compete at the highest level.

“I think it comes from my dad, he’s exactly like me in that way,” she explained. “If he sets out to do something, it will happen, so I feel like I got it from him.

‘For me it helps me a lot, but I feel that all the best players have it. You have to be humble, of course, but also a good confident guy to know you’re good enough. I feel like you need that to be able to confidently display all your ability.

As he continues to adjust to life in west London after returning to the capital in January, Chelsea fans will no doubt be able to see that confidence and skill on display at Bridge.


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