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TQ Addy: 'I Grew Up Around Football'

18 January 2019

"My family are all supportive but I don’t like a lot of attention. I don’t like people saying, ‘he’s done this, he’s done that.' I prefer just a ‘well done’ when I get home, or people asking, ‘how did the game go?’. But that’s it. I don’t really like a big scene with a big crowd."

Those who know or have met the Palace Academy's Tetteh-Quaye Addy might perhaps be surprised to learn of the understated, commendable modesty of the chipper, jinky forward when hearing how he tends to enjoy basking in the glory of a win or successful game on the pitches developing the future of English football.

Known across the club for a full-faced smile, quick quip or zestful tendency to capture his peer's attention, Addy, known affectionately by the initialism TQ, has more to him than just the abundant energy needed to make it in football.

Instead, he demonstrates a considered passion for the game and drive to achieve in a sport he has spent his life consumed by.

"When I was younger," he explained, "football was just one of those things I grew up around. I just played; I’d go to the park, see my friends, play in the cage, and I just grew up around football.

"It’s always been a dream to play in the Premier League; it’s the biggest league in the world. When you’re young, it’s the only thing you think of. If I come through the ranks at Palace and get to play in the first-team one day, that would be one of my goals achieved. It would be a great feeling."

But despite holding high aspirations and an ambition to hit the top, no one allows complacency or entitlement to seep into their thoughts when working with the Academy and sustaining their careers even at Under-18 level is an unrelenting challenge for the young, aspiring footballers.

Perhaps it's Addy who knows this better than anyone.

Signing for the Eagles in 2013, aged just 11, the south London-born striker had already suffered a knock-back when released by the Fulham Academy whom he joined having spent his pre-academy years with Palace.

The experience made Addy - now 16 - determined and focussed and, he says, insistent on taking his rare shot at a second-chance when putting pen to paper for the Eagles.

"When they [Palace] took me back, I had my mind focussed and set my goals. There have been a few ups and downs but it’s mainly been ups. You just have to carry on trying to work and hopefully you can progress.

"My family [reacted to the second chance at Palace] by saying, ‘just make sure you take it’. Everyone knew I was young still, I was Under-12s, so they knew there was a way to go. You don’t get multiple chances, especially in football because it’s a tight industry. Not everyone gets two chances.

"All my friends, where I live in my area, all used to play for academies but they didn’t get back in once they were released. You’ve got to take your opportunity because you see people get released and they’ll be down."

But having kept a grasp on his position in the Palace Academy, Addy now has the chance to play regular football with the Under-23s despite being just 16. Playing alongside 23-year-olds and even seasoned first-team professionals is not a commonplace experience for most young men who aren't yet old enough to vote.

But Addy takes it all in his stride with his own focussed, humble ways.

He remarked, "It’s a much bigger step up. It’s a lot stronger, everyone’s passing the ball a lot quicker; it’s punched in. The standards are a lot higher compared with the quality of the Under-18s because the players have more experience. So obviously the gap is big, but it’s manageable.

"With the Under-23s [debut] I was more nervous because I’d never played with those players before and they were all quite a bit older than me. The more you play with them though, the more you get used to them and the more you can improve.

"They’re all calm and good players, no one digs you out but they expect the standards to be high. Obviously, you have to try and work your way to being as good as they are."

But now, returning his attention to the Under-18s, Addy has his mind firmly settled on one thing: Crystal Palace Under-18s facing off with Bolton Wanderers in the FA Youth Cup at Selhurst Park.

To get to this round, the Eagles had to dispose of Cogenhoe United away from home in a fierce game early in December. Looking back on a match in which he netted the winning goal, Addy recalled a tough fixture that rewarded the south London youth players well for their efforts.

"It felt good [to score the winner] because it was 1-1 in the 80th minute. It was away from home and all the crowd were getting onto us. They nearly scored to make it 2-1 to them and in a cup game, it just feels a bit different. So when I scored, obviously everyone was happy and we were all cheering.

"It was a good atmosphere and good experience. There was a bit of pressure, with the fans giving us a bit of this and that here and there, but nothing that serious. It was a good experience because we’ve never really done anything like that before, we’re used to smaller crowds around the side of the training pitches. The fans were supporting them [Cogenhoe] obviously.

"No one said anything particularly rude but if you missed a shot, they might woo you or something like that, nothing too serious - just light-hearted banter.

"Now, I just want to get as far as possible, because last year the Under-18s got knocked out at Selhurst against Newcastle United and we want to progress further than that."

But progression is hard and, having been told the last time Palace won the Youth Cup was in 1978, Addy ended with a positive look forward for the Eagles.

He exclaimed, "Ah, that’s a long time! I wasn’t even born, I’m 2002! That’s mad. Anything’s possible this year, look at the reigning champions; they’re knocked out already. You never know."

To find out how Addy and the side get along, make sure to buy your tickets for this encounter now and support the next generation of Crystal Palace under the lights at Selhurst Park. Find out more and book your place here!

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