Cherries youngster Daniel Adu-Adjei has spoken candidly about the pressures of chasing a career in top flight football.
The 18-year-old signed his first professional contract this year, joining AFC Bournemouth’s development squad as a striker – but his journey to this point hasn’t all plain sailing.
Adu-Adjei spent four years at Brentford then moved to fellow West London club Fulham but was eventually released.
He admitted that there is pressure in academy football.
He said: “You are always being judged and critiqued and that pressure starts from a young age, even at nine years old you are fighting for a new contract rather than actually just enjoying your football.”
The young striker has faced disappointment in his short career so far already.
He added: “My biggest setback so far in my career is being released from Fulham because it was a huge blow to my confidence.
“The whole process of going on trial and going into new clubs and environments was something that I found really difficult to cope with.”
Adu-Adjei spent a small stint in the latter months of the 2022/2023 season on loan at local non-league club Poole town.
“I enjoyed the pressure of playing in front of people who have paid to watch the game and therefore have high expectations of how you perform,” he said.
“I learnt a lot about how to dominate opponents even though they are physically better than me, as that was not something I was very used to coming from eighteens football.”
Poole town chairman Chris Reeves sees the benefit of loaning youngsters.
He said: “To be able to have loan players at very little expense to us is a very important way of bolstering the squad.
“It is offen the case that young professionals aren’t good enough for men’s football at our level, but every now and again you get a loan player that is fantastic.”
Bournemouth season ticket holder Olly spoke about his desire to see more youngsters get a chance in the first team.
“I saw the development squad game against Pompey, I thought Adu-Adjei, and the players were excellent,” he said. “I really hope to see some of them brought through soon.”
Daniel Adu-Adjei made it onto the bench in the Premier League for the Cherries in their fixture against Manchester United in May. The striker has taken his form into the new season as he looks to reach the first team.