This summer, we're featuring some of the players who have appeared in our academy Young Gun section of the match day programme in 2020/21. Next up, we have talented attacking midfielder, Omari Hutchinson.
My academy story began at under-nine level.
I was playing for Charlton’s pre-academy at the time and I remember we had a game against Arsenal at home, which is always a big deal! I played really well on the day and after the game, a scout spoke to my dad and said that Arsenal were interested. I remember I was playing as a No 10 on the day, which is my favourite position, and I was honestly assisting and scoring from all directions! I guess it’s one of those things that when you’re young, you’re kind of just going through the motions and don’t really understand what’s happening all around you, but as you get older you can take a step back and appreciate what’s happened.
I’ve been doing that more recently with my time at Hale End now that we’ve made the full switch to London Colney. We’ve all grown up together since we were little kids and it’s so good to see all my team-mates getting bigger, stronger and gaining more opportunities each year.
Even now I look up at the under-23s and I remember when they were all training at Hale End, and now we’re the ones who are making the step up too. I’ve got such great memories of working with all the coaches and staff throughout all the different age groups too, so it was obviously sad to be leaving lots of that behind, but there’s so much I can look back on with a smile on my face.
I can remember so many of my goals there, too. There was one against Crystal Palace Under-16s where I took the ball from the halfway line and put it bottom corner, and another was a free-kick that went top bins against Charlton Under-14s, there’s so many memories! But maybe one of my favourite games to date was in the cup against Chelsea. I remember I was on the bench and the game was 2-2, when I got on, I picked up the ball on the halfway line, dribbled past a few midfielders, cut inside and put it top corner to win the game. That’s my favourite memory.
Based upon some of those goals, you can probably guess what type of player I am. I’ve been a No 10 ever since I was a kid and I’ve always been the creative/ technical type. I love linking up with midfielders and attacks around me and I’m always looking to make positive runs in the final third. I’m double footed too!
There are a few players I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from and tried to replicate parts of their game. Santi Cazorla was always a joy to watch at Arsenal. I remember he used to take corners with both feet and that’s what I do too, so I’m going to keep working on it. Thiago from Bayern Munich is another player I admire. He’s got that signature turn he does and his footwork is just ridiculous, he’s one of the very best in the world right now.
One final player I really respect is Bukayo Saka. He’s always had his head down and he’s always willing to work. He’s never distracted and he’s an incredible example for the rest of the academy – both on and off the pitch. When we played against Crystal Palace he came down to watch us and sat on the bench with us, and when he attended our introduction meeting for the under-18s he came along to talk about his experience of the pathway between the academy and the first team and what you need to do. He’s a really good lad and we all look up to him.
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