You’ve left the office, headphones are in, the evening has begun…and then someone is chasing you down the path beckoning you to come back into the office. Not many of us would turn around and head back inside. Surely it can wait until tomorrow.
Not Brandon Pierrick, though, with the Palace U23s winger more than happy to do a ‘180’ and walk back up the long pathway that leads to the first-team Academy ground down Copers Cope Road, for our ‘Cuppa in the Canteen’ interview.
It is reactions like that, to a situation that must be a tad annoying, and certainly inconvenient, that highlights why Pierrick is a firm favourite of the coaches down at Beckenham, with the midfielder the only player to start all U23 games so far this season.
Reflecting on the strong start to his season, he said: “It shows that the manager has a lot of faith in me to play me in these games. It’s good for me because I’m still developing, still young and I’m learning a lot and the manager and coaches are willing to help me every step of the way.”
Developing on the pitch, Pierrick has been learning and adapting off of it, too, with the club’s decision to enter the Premier League Cup for this season throwing up a few new challenges for our aspiring footballers: “It has been a new challenge for me because I haven’t really played against them sort of teams [Premier League 2 sides] in a long while. And when we have away games, going to places like Burnley, Blackburn and Middlesbrough over the season, the long journeys are something I’m not used to. I’m adapting to all these new things in my surroundings.”
The U23s are clearly a tight-knit group, that’s abundantly clear when you enter the canteen at the training ground, the buzz of laughter and chatter is similar to that of an engaged school classroom. And these long trips to stadiums up north help harness that togetherness within the squad: “I look to travel up with my ‘day one’ Malachi [Boateng] and Brandon Aveiro but if those lads aren’t there, we’ve got a good squad and all mix.”
If the grin on Pierrick’s face from being told he is the only player to start every game for the U23s so far this season was big, then the one that appeared when he was told that Andros Townsend had said that he reminds Andros of himself at that age, looked like it was never going to wane.
“Woah” Pierrick remarked, all whilst trying to stifle his bashful smile, before continuing: “It’s a nice feeling hearing him say those sorts of things because he’s obviously a top player. He’s doing his thing on the pitch, I’m doing my thing and I hope one day we will be playing on the pitch together.”
Townsend as something of a mentor is a comment that has regularly come up during our chats with the Academy and Development sides at Palace, and Pierrick was no different in heaping praise on the senior pro’s influence: “One hundred percent [Townsend is a mentor]. Whenever a player comes across to train with the first-team, Andros and a couple of the others are the ones to go to if you’re feeling a little bit by yourself; they will help integrate you.”
With a brace in pre-season for the first-team against AFC Wimbledon, the season Pierrick is having is no surprise. And with the club now moving towards Category One Academy status, the impact it will have on the development on Pierrick and his fellow teammates could be huge.
Who knows, perhaps Palace have another Starman waiting in the wings.
This interview with today's hat-trick hero is from Saturday's matchday programme against Liverpool. You can still grab a digital copy for just £1.99 - click the banner below for more info.