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Catching up with Kieron Cadogan: Edgar Davids, Jules, AWB and plenty more

20 May 2019

It has now been seven years since Kieron Cadogan departed Crystal Palace, another south London and proud local lad who made a name for himself in the beautiful game.

Having just made a crucial late push in Woking's instant return to the National League via the play-offs, a lot has happened since Cadogan departed Selhurst Park with plenty of brave decisions made and experiences gained.

But before we discussed the 'now' with our former winger, we took him back to the time that all young footballers dream of: the first professional contract.

"Neil Warnock was the manager and he was a man of his word because he did say before the game against Aldershot Town that he was going to offer me a professional contract. He called three of us over to say that we’d done well and that he was going to offer us a deal," Cadogan explained.

"In that same game, just before the final whistle, I got tackled on my ankle and fractured it. I was worried at what would this mean as I was going to be out for three or four months. But Neil said: 'Don’t worry about it; I’m going to honour my word and still give you that contract.' That was a big boost for me."

That show of faith gave Cadogan all the confidence a player of his clear ability required, and it was that confidence, coupled with a desire to progress and learn, that saw the then-youngster not shy away from engaging with Edgar Davids upon on his arrival down at the Eagles' training ground.

“When Edgar came I was just in awe. I wanted to soak up everything I could. He was quite a quiet person, so some of the boys would just leave him to it, however, I would always be going up to him and asking questions about things like the World Cup, Barcelona and he was happy to talk. We got on quite well.

“You could see he had little technical drills on the training pitch. He would show us what he did at Barcelona and how they would improve their first touch or tell us stories of when he was at Inter Milan and they won the league and how they’d concentrate on their shape and how everyone would know where to be. Little bits that he would share like that I was always fascinated by.”

Discussions of one footballing legend progressed to fond memories of another - Julian Speroni - who the club, of course, said goodbye to this month. Coming through as an 18-year-old academy lad, you cannot think of many better people for youngsters learning the ropes to have in their squad than Jules.

Training

WATCH: Julian Speroni's final training session with Crystal Palace

14 May 2019

“Julian was very quiet; he is fairly religious and I come from a religious background as well so we got on, on that side of things.

“I remember when he opened his restaurant in Purley the team went down to show their support and have a meal.

“Julian is a top bloke and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Life at the beginning of a footballer's career isn't always exchanging stories with Edgar Davids and grabbing a bite to eat with Palace icons. Loan spells are very much all part of the process in learning your trade; Cadogan had loan spells with Burton Albion and Rotherham United during his time at Selhurst Park.

“When you’re a youngster the club encourage loan spells so you get some experience of men’s football. When I went to Burton, two of us went down there – myself and Nathaniel Pinney – for a day so they could have a look at us, and when we came back they said that they’d take me. It was just for a month loan so I could get a feel for what the league was like.”

In 2012, the Palace Academy graduate's time with the club came to an end by mutual consent. However, it didn't end his association with the club, with Cadogan keeping a close eye on proceedings down at Selhurst Park, and in particular former player Aaron Wan-Bissaka: "It is good to see that the club still has the same ethos of bringing through homegrown talents because a lot of Premier League clubs aren’t doing that or at the very least it is difficult for them."

Furthermore, the now-28-year-old is still close with a certain current Palace forward: "I speak to Nathaniel Clyne on the odd occasion; I am quite close with Wilf. And I still chat with Sean Scannell, Lewis Grabban and Calvin Andrew."

After leaving Palace, Aldershot Town came calling and then Barnet Town where former team-mate Davids was manager. 

"When I left Palace I went to Aldershot and then I went to Barnet under Edgar Davids but my time finished there when Edgar left Barnet. At the time I was in the Conference, and the football was a lot of kicking and a rough approach; I wasn’t really enjoying it."

Just a few days after his 24th birthday, Cadogan made the brave and big decision to take up the opportunity being offered to him in Europe with Swedish outfit GAIS.

"An opportunity came up to go to Sweden, which I was a bit scared about at first. Initially it was just a three-month deal to the end of the year to see how I like it and how they take to me. When I went out there it was good football, the people were nice and the city I was staying in, Gothenburg, was great. I really enjoyed it there so I stayed for another two years."

With two-and-a-half years in Sweden under his belt, Cadogan felt ready to return to England having learnt a lot with GAIS, in a league that complimented his playing style and allowed him greater time on the ball. 

Returning to England, first with Sutton United, Cadogan joined Billericay Town in January of this year. However, in a rare footballing move, the former Palace man ended up on loan at Billericay's promotion rivals in the National League South, Woking.

Cadogan's arrival in March culminated in the Cards, who finished second in the league, winning the play-off final against Welling United to secure an instant return to the National League.

SEE ALSO: Remembering Palace's play-off penalty progress

The Cardinals' assistant manager is none other than Sky Sports' very own, Martin Tyler, a man in which Kieron confirmed our suspicions of that he is nothing more than a lovely guy: "He is an absolute legend; he is just the nicest guy going. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He will come and tell the boys about the game the night before that he was watched and he will give us tips to motivate us."

And with that discussion on Cadogan's most recent success bringing an end to the questions, it was time to say goodbye. However, it was then that you truly appreciated what a special club Crystal Palace is.

We'll leave you with Kieron's final comment to us before the interview ended: “Can I just end by saying something? I would like to thank Karen Green, a long-term Marie Curie volunteer and Eagles fan who has organised several fundraising activities with the club. Karen has followed my career, even after I left Palace. When I joined Sutton she would come down to watch my games, I always appreciated it and means a lot."

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