Charlton Athletic: The ones that got away

Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur

When football clubs like Charlton Athletic have hidden gems within their ranks it is sometimes impossible to keep hold of them.

Over the years a substantial list has been created and in the near future it could be added to with youngster Joe Gomez. There is a host of Premier League clubs that have expressed their interest in the 15-year-old defender.  The England Under-16 star is widely considered to be one of the hottest prospects in English football.

One of the most controversial players that got away is Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe. Defoe joined the clubs youth team at the age of 14 before moving on to West Ham two years later.

The striker made his decision to turn professional with the Hammers and subsequently the Addicks were awarded £1.4million dependent on Premier League and International appearances.

During his early years Defoe went on loan to Bournemouth where he scored 18 goals in 29 appearances, and his West Ham manager Harry Redknapp was impressed with his season long loan at the Second Division club.

“He’s done great. I sent him out to Bournemouth to get some experience playing league football and he’s coped marvelously. To score 10 goals in 10 games is a terrific achievement. He’s a bright lad who’s full of confidence. Nothing knocks him, he’s a typical goalscorer. If he misses, he’ll be there the next time looking for a goal. He’s a kid with a big future,” said Redknapp.

Currently at Tottenham Defoe is still scoring goals on a consistent basis and his goal scoring antics means he is the eighth all time Spurs goalscorer.

Scott Parker was another player to leave the club in controversial fashion after coming up through the ranks. After playing 145 times and scoring 10 times for Charlton, Parker was a fan favourite for is combative roles in midfield. When Parker left the club for Chelsea in 2004 for a fee of £10mllion it left a bad taste with fans and manager Alan Curbishley who was disappointed in the conduct of the transfer.

“The bottom line is that Scott, from the moment he heard Chelsea were interested, hasn’t wanted to play for us and has been totally not focused on what he was doing,” Curbishley said.

“I’ve known Scott for 10 years, and he’s been phenomenal for the last three seasons. But the last three weeks have left a bad taste in the mouth.”

Parker has represented England from every level from Under-16’s to the National side where he has earned 17 caps.

Charlton’s youngest player at the age of 16 years and 59 days old, Jonjo Shelvey’s departure was an upsetting transfer but not one which any Charlton fan can have any complaints about.

Shelvey also became the clubs youngest goal scorer when he scored against Norwich in the FA Cup and his performances soon made him recognised by bigger clubs. It was Liverpool that signed the midfielder for a fee of £1.7million and is making an impact at his new club, as well as making his England debut.

Carl Jenkinson is another youngster that came through the cubs youth ranks before moving to the Premier League. The right back only featured eight times for the Addicks before moving to Arsenal for a fee believed to be worth £1million. Jenkinson started the first five games of this season due to injury to Bacary Sagna and has gone on to represent his new club in the Champions League and like Shelvey has made his International debut.

The final name to make it on to this list is Lee Bowyer. Bowyer broke into the first team at 17 years-old and became a first team regular before Leeds United signed the midfielder in 1996 for £2.8million, which was then a record fee for a transfer.

There is no denying that Charlton’s youth set up has brought through a number of top players which have turned out to be stars and represent their country at the highest level. As a Charlton fan, for most of these players I want to see go on and be a success, others I hope they enjoy less success, but the underlying question is, if we were any bigger would these players have stayed and helped the club progress even further than what we achieved in our ‘glory’ years of the Premier League instead of being in the Championship at the moment after suffering a torturous few seasons which saw the club fall to League 1.