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 Franklin Domi.
The Albanian youth international was a latecomer into the professional game, having joined the R’s in early 2019 from Enfield Borough.
Position: Left back
Best qualities: Speed, acceleration and attack-mindedness
Sum yourself up in five words: Funny, confident, easy-going, determined, disciplined
Idol: Andy Robertson
Favourite type of music: US Rap
Favourite football boots: Pink Nike Mercurial
QPR U23s full-back Franklin Domi has enjoyed a whirlwind last 18 months or so, and he is determined to keep riding his upward curve.
Domi – who joined the R’s in March 2019 – was first introduced to football aged five when he used to have training sessions at his local sports centre.
By age 11, he was representing Islington and Camden District and in 2016 he helped them win the London district title for the first time since 1964.
He got stuck into a Sports Science Level 3 BTEC during a year at the Soccer Chance Academy College and it is through his studies that he met Enfield Borough manager Shaun Reece, who was also a coach at the college.
Leese gave him a chance at Enfield and within three months of playing men’s football Domi had earned himself a trial at QPR.
Now as an established member of the club’s U23s squad, he wants to keep progressing.
“I’ve made a lot of progress, both on the pitch and off the pitch as a professional and how I carry myself,” he told www.qpr.co.uk. “On the pitch, a lot of really, really good things have happened to me, like getting the call up to Albania.
“I’ve improved a lot; if I watch my clips from a year ago to now, a lot has been added to my game and a lot has been taken out too. I’m very happy.”
That first Albania U20 call-up, which came in January 2019, was an incredibly proud moment for him and his family. When it came, he had also just been offered his first QPR contract and he remembers being given the news by Academy Director Alex Carroll and Chris Ramsey.
Domi – whose parents are both Albanian – said: “I was speechless; over the moon. I came home and I was so happy and so excited.
“My family were so happy for me and it was a moment that I will always cherish and remember. We had a little celebration – a barbeque in January but it was warm enough for it!
“I always try to see my grandparents and other family when I go over to Albania to play.”
Domi started his football career as a flying winger but after lifting the London district title he converted to a full-back.
His idol, therefore, changed from Lionel Messi to the likes of Roberto Carlos, Marcelo, Jordi Alba, David Alaba and Andy Robertson, and he is able to relate to the latter in more ways than one.
Domi used to fund his travel to and from his Enfield Town matches by working in supermarket Budgens on a Thursday and Sunday and, similarly, Robertson was employed by Marks and Spencer during his teenage years.
As well as occupying the same position on the pitch, the QPR youngster is able to take inspiration from the career path of the now Scotland captain.
He said: “I read he got released at 15 by Celtic because he was too small but look at him now, he’s won the Champions League. Some of the stories behind the players are kind of beautiful.
“That also gives me confidence, knowing that people have still made it after being in the position that I was in.
“Andy Robertson was working, I was working and he still made it. It gives you a boost and shows you that, no matter what, you’ll always have a chance.
“I’ve studied a lot of left-backs, looked up to them and try to put aspects of their game in to mine.”
Domi was enjoyed a loan spell at Eastbourne Borough when the season was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He scored on his debut for The Sports and when football does resume he has set himself two main targets.
He said: “Long term, I want to try and achieve two things. I want to make my debut with the first team and train with the first team of Albania.”