I got to interview Jordan Adebayo-Smith this week for the club programme, but due to heavy workload I didn’t get an article out in the run up to the game.
If you were lucky enough to get a programme yesterday, you’d have read about him moving from the bright lights of East London to a sleep Lincolnshire village, as well as expressing his joy at making his debut in the EFL Trophy against Accrington. I know it’s not a popular competition, but to hear the joy in the lad’s voice as he spoke of making his bow confirmed it does have a place in the football calendar, in some guise.
Away from the programme piece I got to ask him if he feels any pressure, being so highly rated. He’s recently been named in ‘The 11’, a collection of the most exciting young players in the country recognised for their ability, application and potential.
England Under 20s World Cup Winners Ademola Lookman, Dael Fry (Middlesbrough), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (formerly Sheffield United) and Lewis Cook (formerly Leeds United) have all previously been named in ‘The 11’, meaning it is a huge accolade and one the reflects fantastically on the young winger.
Having now made his first team debut, as well as scoring against West Brom in the FA youth Cup, I wondered if he felt any sort of expectation at all.
“I don’t feel the pressure as such. In the big games I like to show what I can do, when people are watching. I don’t feel pressure, I don’t really see that. I play my game, I focus on the tactics and try to win the game, always. That’s what I do and it is what I will keep on doing.”
He didn’t feel the pressure in his Imps trial a game against Derby County Under 23s, when he scored, just pride. The same applies for the Accrington game and doubtless will apply when he finally makes his Football League debut.
I enjoyed speaking to Jordan. He was very careful to select the right words, clearly not wanting to say the wrong thing and he kept his answers succinct as you’d expect a 17-year old to. He isn’t one to get carried away with his achievements and it was hard to believe I was chatting to a young man who had made his Imps debut before turning 18, such was his demeanour. He spoke softly, almost too softly for me to hear at times, but also with a certainty over his own ability.
I can’t wait to see how he develops, both as a man and as a player, over the coming years. The early signs are very, very exciting.