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U23s in profile: Deshane Dalling

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 Deshane Dalling.

The 21-year-old  joined the R's in January 2018 and he is an exciting winger who can play on either the flank.

Quick-fire questions

Position: Left wing

Foot: Right (just)

Nickname: Didi

Best quality: Dribbling, speed and strength

Sum yourself up in five words: outgoing, confident, hardworking, ambitious, talented

Idol: Ronaldinho

Favourite type of music: All genres

Favourite football boots: Nike Mercurial  

Supporters who follow QPR’s U23s squad regularly will know that Deshane Dalling was the subject of this feature last year.

In February 2019, to be precise.

In that piece, the self-acclaimed ‘outgoing and bubbly’ winger told and reflected upon his fledgling footballing story.

Despite his age, a lot had happened in his career by February 2019, in terms of ups and downs. And at the time of his first ‘U23s in profile’ interview, he was in the middle of a ‘down’ by overcoming a serious MCL knee injury.

His aforementioned ups and downs had started long before that, though. Dalling never had the opportunity to experience an academy education. At age 18, he was playing non-league football with Staines Town whilst also studying Sports Science at Kingston College.

By this point, he’d missed out on moves to Fulham and Millwall as a youngster but then, in January 2017, he signed for Huddersfield Town who, at that point, were a Premier League club.

Coincidentally, he also had an offer on the table from QPR but, following discussions with his family, he elected to move 200 miles north to join the Terriers.

He looked to be on track to achieve his dream of becoming a professional footballer but another setback was to come as within a year Huddersfield had released him.

That’s when he joined QPR - in January 2018 - and 13 months later he sat down for that first ‘U23s in profile’ interview.

Fourteen months later and we are at the present day [April 2020]. To say Dalling has made progress with QPR, would probably be an understatement.

As well as becoming a mainstay in the R’s U23s team, he’s also earned his first-team debut and been given the opportunity to experience regular senior football with a loan spell at Cork City.

The Bermondsey-raised winger’s senior bow came on New Year’s Day. With Rangers 3-1 up against Swansea City in the Emirates FA Cup, he came on for the final 20 minutes and the R’s would add another two goals before full-time.

“I felt like the time for my debut was coming soon,” he told www.qpr.co.uk. “I’d been training with the first team for a little bit and I felt like I was impressing the gaffer. I was doing all of the small details well and I kept pushing in the hope I would get my chance.

“When I got to the stadium for the game, I was nervous but not nervous at the same time, if that makes sense.

“As soon as I was on the pitch, though, it felt like a normal game to me. I remember thinking ‘this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do’. I think I did well.

“I’d been waiting for that opportunity and I wanted to show the gaffer that I want to be part of his team. He spoke to me after the game and said that I didn’t look out of place. I got some nice feedback from Chris Ramsey, Hally [Paul Hall] and Imps [Andy Impey] too. I couldn’t stop smiling!”

Hall and Impey are Dalling’s coaches at U23 level. They’ve both had a big impact on his development as during their playing days they were both wingers themselves.

U23s boss Hall, a former Jamaica international, made almost 700 career league appearances while Impey’s most famous playing days came at QPR and Leicester City.

Dalling said: “To have two coaches that played in the same position as me and played the game that long, I’m very lucky.

“They had very good careers and that benefits me a lot because they can sprinkle their knowledge on to me. I listen to everything that they tell me and it helps me a lot.

“They’ve been where I want to be and they put a lot of effort and time into me. They pinpoint my strengths as well as things I need to work on.

“When we train, I work one on one with them before and after the sessions and I’ve spoken to them both on the phone during this lockdown as well.

“They’ve told me to watch certain wingers, like Wilfried Zaha; he checks his shoulders before he gets onto the ball, so things like that help me. They send me lots of clips.”

The latest chapter in Dalling’s development saw him make a temporary switch to League of Ireland Premier Division club Cork City in February.

An impressive debut was followed by him receiving a straight red card against Shamrock Rovers, in a game that Cork would go on to lose 6-0. To make matters worse, Dalling was given in his marching orders in the first half and in front of Rangers’ Director of Football Les Ferdinand, who had travelled to the game to watch him.

“I’m not going to lie, I was scared,” Dalling said. “I really thought he was going to grill me after the game!

“I actually thought he was going to kill me but he said before the red card I was getting crosses in and shots off and was the team’s main threat, so I think that saved me from him.”

I remember thinking ‘this is where I want to be and this is what I want to do’.

Deshane Dalling