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Get to know Tayo Adaramola - the Academy defender who left home for Palace


Tayo Adaramola has had quite the journey for an 18-year-old. Now, as he makes his first professional start for Crystal Palace against Stoke City, we republish a programme interview from 2020/21 in which the youngster explains his career so far.

Football is a tale of extreme commitment, sacrifice and upheaval at all stages. Be it the semi-professional who trains three times a week and competes across the country despite having a full-time job or the seasoned international who forgoes their early years and moves cross-continent to sustain a top-tier career, players throughout the game dedicate their life to the sport.

This is as true of youth football as it is for professional, and academies across England contain teenagers and children who have made significant forfeits to earn a chance at securing their break.

Tayo Adaramola is no different. Joined by his mother, father and sisters, the left-back made the first sacrifice of his career in 2014: moving to Essex from Dublin to pursue a life in football. Six years later, he hit its first major milestone: signing a professional contract.

“I just feel so happy,” the teenager told the club after putting pen to paper with its Academy. “I’m just grateful for everyone that’s been with me throughout this journey.”

Tayo Adaramola is a happy man after making his senior debut

But, despite its length, the journey has already been eventful. Leaving home, friends and normality behind aged 11 is tough in any circumstance. It’s especially tough when it isn’t immediately justified.

“My parents tell me all the time that a lot of what they do is for me, so I need to make them proud,” Adaramola says. “It’s good to have a little bit of pressure.

“I didn’t have a team for about five months [when arriving in England] - I was just getting fit and playing alone. I saw a team behind my house playing, my dad took me over and they took me on. Beech United.

“I stayed there for a year until I went to trial at Charlton. That didn’t go well, so I went to West Ham Development for about six months. Nothing went well there either.

“At a young age when you’re having a lot of downfall, you always want to give up. But my parents encouraged me to keep going and stayed by my side throughout all of that.

“Then I finally came to Palace.”

Academy Director Gary Issott can recall Adaramola’s arrival to this day, saying: “I remember when he came to the club and, with any left-footer that comes, you’re always optimistic because there are so few around.

“He’s been a slow burner but at 15 and 16 he really emerged and he just grew in confidence.”

It was at this age Adaramola earned his first international call-up; affirmation that he and his family had done the right thing in swapping Dublin for south London.

But the teenager’s emigration didn’t see him leave Ireland behind forever:

“My first Ireland call-up, [then-Under-16s manager] Rob Quinn told me in training. He put me in a green bib and made a little joke about Ireland. I knew something was coming up and he told me after the session that I’m going with them to the Euro qualifiers and I was just over the moon.”

Today, Adaramola is a key part of the Under-23s group thriving in the Premier league 2, and made his professional debut against Hartlepool United in the FA Cup.

Each of his teammates will have made their own sacrifice to be at this stage, but few will have moved country before even starting secondary school. Clearly, Adaramola is aware of his unique position and the support he receives from a committed family.

He explains how they felt for the young Irishman to turn professional six years after leaving home: “They’re over the moon; they can’t express their feelings. I’m just grateful I was able to do that for them.”

A humble view on a humbling journey. Further sacrifice awaits Adaramola in football, but he will no doubt be as ready as anyone.