Reise Allassani looked destined for the top during his time at Crystal Palace but the 26-year-old now finds himself in the eighth tier of English football with Leatherhead FC.
Allassani was a product of Palace’s academy and was tipped to emulate Wilfried Zaha because of his incredible pace but sadly never lived up to his immense potential, with injuries more than playing their part.
The winger would sign a professional contract aged 17 and was sent on a pre-season tour to Portugal under Ian Holloway before being hit by glandular fever, which dented his chances of making a first-team appearance.
When he signed his deal, former academy manager Gary Issott said: “It is fantastic news for the club.
“We are very proud of him and he is someone we are hoping will go on and do great things for the club.
“He is a very good technical player with a good first touch, great dribbler and a clever mind.”
He would never make a senior appearance for the Eagles and was released aged just 20 in 2016, with a move to Sheffield Wednesday on the cards until Allassani would suffer a cruciate ligament knee injury.
This forced the Englishman to drop into non-league when he did make his return to action, signing for Dulwich Hamlet in the Ryman Premier League, where he contributed an impressive 17 goals in 31 games as they earned promotion to the Vanarama South in the 2020/21 season.
Allassani had a number of football league suitors after that form and earned a move to Coventry City, but would make just five substitute appearances for the club, with another cruciate ligament injury causing a lot of problems for the youngster.
Upon his signing for Coventry, Dulwich Hamlet manager Gavin Rose spoke highly of Allassani and his potential to make it in the football league.
He said: “I’d say he’s driven. He was one of those players who was identified as one people thought from a young age would go to the top. Many fall by the wayside when they have that billing and then don’t progress as they thought but Reise is really hungry and determined not to be one of those.
“He’s rapid, really quick and good with the ball at his feet. He can take people out of the game pretty easily but he’s also able to link the play quite well and obviously has an eye for goal.”
Sadly for Allassani, his chances of making a career in the football league look slim, as after a brief spell out of football, the 24-year-old signed for Leatherhead FC, who are currently struggling in the Isthmian South Central League – the eighth tier of English football.
Hopefully, the youngster can get his career back on track after such damaging injury problems, with his comparisons to Zaha sadly a distant memory for the 26-year-old.