By Full Contact News and Views
Full Contact client Freddie Ladapo has completed a sensational move to Premier League club Crystal Palace.
Freddie, 23, pictured here with his mother as he puts pen to paper on a contract running to the summer of 2018 is one of the rare players to transfer from the sixth flight of football (Margate, in the National League South) straight to the Premier League. The transfer followed Freddie impressing Alan Pardew over two matches on trial – in the first of which Freddie scored a hat-trick against Watford.
Freddie began his career as a prolific Academy goalscorer at Colchester United but after only being given limited substitute opportunities in League One, he took a bold decision to seek a transfer to National League club Kidderminster Harriers in January 2014. Sadly for Freddie, the manager who signed him and who was well versed in his potential (Andy Thorn) was dismissed almost immediately after Freddie’s arrival at the club and the new management chose not to play him. Successful loan spells at Hayes and then Grays Athletic followed but still Kidderminster did not choose to give Freddie the opportunity he yearned so in January 2015 he transferred to National League South club Margate. Whilst at Margate, it is not just Freddie’s goals that have stood out (he has scored 23 League goals in 49 appearances) but the fact that he has mostly played as a lone-striker demonstrating often quite heroic levels of work-rate and fitness. One very respected observer of non-league football was led to comment after a game against League leaders Ebbsfleet that Freddie’s performance as a lone striker was “probably the best individual performance I have ever seen in non-league.”
In the January 2016 transfer window a number of Football League clubs made bids to Margate – but the only bid actually meeting Margate’s valuation of a player who was under contract to them until 2017 coming from a National League club. Freddie chose to remain, a decision vindicated when in March 2016 he was invited to train and trial with Crystal Palace.
Dan Chapman, senior partner of Full Contact, explained “After Margate kindly agreed that Freddie could play a maximum of two games for Crystal Palace, the decision was made by Palace that they wanted to sign Freddie. It was quite a complex deal to structure – outside of the normal transfer window of course – and we all had to work to some fairly frenetic deadlines last Thursday to get things across the line. Phil Alexander and his team at Palace were excellent as were Chris Pope and Margate and we all worked to ensure a deal that was fair for all parties took place, giving Freddie this truly deserved but quite wonderful opportunity. On a personal level, and indeed for all of us at Full Contact, this is a very proud moment: we have represented Freddie since he was a prolific goalscorer at Colchester u21 level and I recall only too well my colleague Lee claiming as he was firing in the goals against the likes of Arsenal U21’s that this boy would play in the Premier League. I think at times in 2014 and 2015 when he was on the bench in League One, then even more when at Kidderminster, Grays and Margate that seemed like a bold call – but right now Freddie is a Premier League player, and whilst of course he has a long way to go before he has actually played in that League, the claim made by Lee does not quite seem so ridiculous now. My admiration for Freddie is huge, at no point has he ever sulked or complained. Not once has he moaned about non-league facilities or the style of football he has been asked to play. He just works, works and works and always looks to improve. I can’t think of a player who deserves an opportunity like this more than Freddie.”
Full Contact’s Head of Football Lee Payne added “It is very pleasing that there are still clubs like Crystal Palace that are prepared to give players without perhaps the most conventional CV a chance and to judge them on their merits, their ability and potential. At times over the last two or three years I have found it quite staggering that managers and scouts were not seeing in Freddie in what we always saw in him from day one, and it is very satisfying that Crystal Palace have now seen it too. But the real credit is to Freddie for just believing in himself, keeping the dream alive, and even though he had reached 23 and most people probably thought his opportunity had passed to play at the highest levels of our game he kept at it, week in and week out. I am so proud of him and we are delighted to have played our part in helping him get to this stage. He knows the hard work starts again, and he has to move up several levels now if he is going to breakthrough – but I said years ago he would play in the Premier League and I stand by that. I am confident he will!”
Due to registration window rules, Freddie will not be eligible to play for Crystal Palace’s senior team until July 1st so he will spend the remainder of this season playing development and behind-closed-door games and adjusting back to the life of full-time football. We look forward to the 2016/2017 season and seeing how this exciting next stage of Freddie’s career progresses.
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Full Contact News and Views includes articles contributed by Associates and professional contacts within the Full Contact team and includes opinion on sports law, PR and media, football agency and more.
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