IN the next edition of our ‘U23s in profile’ series, where we get to know the career paths to-date of our young players, we speak to Charley Kendall.
The striker – who has been with Rangers since U15 level – is a very polite and confident young footballer who is determined to reach his potential in the game and find the back of the net as often as he can.
Best qualities: Strength of my weaker foot, speed and self-belief
Sum yourself up in five words: Funny, confident, outgoing, focused, determined
Idol: Cristiano Ronaldo
Favourite music: US Hip-Hop
Favourite TV series: Peaky Blinders
Favourite football boots: Adidas F50s
If there is one thing that QPR U23s striker Charley Kendall loves doing then that is scoring goals.
The 19-year-old – who idolised Cristiano Ronaldo growing up – has had an eye for the back of the net since he was a toddler. At age six, the Sussex-raised forward joined his first team, Eastbourne Borough, and two years later he moved on to Ratton Rangers.
Having rippled nets aplenty for Borough and Rangers, he then joined Eastbourne Town aged 10 and, in his first season of playing full-size football (11-aside), he took his scoring habit to a whole new level.
As an U11, he fired home 96 (ninety-six) goals in one season and that alerted the attention of Brighton & Hove Albion, who took him on trial.
It was the second time he had been invited to train with the Seagulls, having done the same aged eight, but they again elected not to offer him a place in their academy.
Charlton Athletic did the same when he was 12 – following a three-week trial – but that didn’t deter him or stop the goals flying in. By this stage he was playing for Wadhurst Town in Kent and at U14 level he caught the attention of QPR.
He initially spent time with a QPR development group and one afternoon they played a match against the QPR academy team of the same age. Kendall bagged four goals in the game and that, in turn, earned him his trial with Rangers’ academy.
After three months on trial – where, of course, the goals kept coming – he put pen to paper on academy forms.
“I was so happy when that happened,” he told www.qpr.co.uk. “Having been on other trials and not been accepted and now to be able to say I was part of an academy was a real privilege and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.
“I felt like I had done well on the trial but there was always a nervous feeling that you might not get signed.”
After joining Rangers, Kendall’s goals continued to flow and he was offered his academy scholarship aged 16, which he cites as one of the best moments of his career to date.
“I was still growing and during my U16 season I was told by the coaches that they needed to see more from me. After that, something switched in me and I started scoring hat-tricks every other week and was playing really well.”
He finished his first scholar year with 12 goals and five assists from 16 appearances for the U18s, having had a strong end to the campaign.
The next year – 2018/19 – looked set to be a big one for him in what was his senior year as a scholar but then he hit a bump in the road.
“That was a difficult year. I’d had a really good pre-season; was scoring goals and playing well and then I got injured for a long time. I was injured for about five or six months and that was hard. It was probably the first real hurdle I have had to overcome.
“It was a hip injury, a pubic overload it was called, and it was hard to even walk at some points. I tried to look at it as a positive because almost everyone will get a major injury at some point in their football career and you need to know how to deal with it.
“When you’re injured, I think you have to look back to the beginning of why you even started playing football because that relighted the spark for me when I was feeling down. It motivates you to come back and it helped me a lot throughout the injury.”
For Kendall, the return he craved was predictably a return to goalscoring and that came at the beginning of 2019/20. By this stage, he was an U23 rather than an U18 and he says that he has learned a lot this season.
“It’s been a good season, I would say. It can be difficult when you go up an age group because you might not play as much as the previous year. You have to adapt to different styles under different coaches and you have to learn fast.
“Paul Hall our coach has played in a World Cup and done everything under the sun, so I have been able to learn positional details, things on and off the balls. He is a very approachable person and we’ve spoken a lot about how I can improve as a striker.
“As much as I love scoring, I know there is a lot more to being a striker than just scoring goals and I’m really trying to learn as much as I can.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kendall has racked up the hours on YouTube by watching clips of Ronaldo, both Cristiano and R9, Robert Lewandowski and Luis Suarez.
“I enjoy learning about the game and they are the main strikers that I look up to. While I can’t play, I’m trying to learn by watching and hopefully I can add a part of their games to mine for when football does come back.”