LATEST NEWS : Exclusive interview with Thierry Small on Charlton Athletic chance, beating ‘statistics’ at

Thierry Small has already accomplished a great deal in his young career.

The Solihull-born defender has played for two Premier League clubs, Everton and Southampton, and represented England at the U17 and U18 levels.

Small became Everton’s youngest player when he made his debut in a 2021 FA Cup match against Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 16 years and 176 days.

His arrival at Charlton Athletic on February 2 brings his career to a crossroads.

Small, 19, agreed to a mutual termination of his Southampton contract after only 45 minutes of senior play with the club since signing professional terms in 2021, right before the winter transfer window closed, allowing him to go outside of that trade period.

period as a free agent
He has had no such issues with game time since putting pen to paper with the Addicks. Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Fleetwood Town means he has played every minute in their last seven League One matches.

Manager Nathan Jones wants power and pace in his side and Small is a muscular, mobile and menacing outlet down the left.
Plenty of Charlton fans have already taken to social media and posted about securing the youngster on a longer-term contract.

“I’ve been really enjoying my football and I really love being in London,” Small told the South London Press. “The Charlton fans are amazing. and it is a brilliant changing room to be part of.

“I’m not on the social media platforms, apart from Instagram, but a few of my friends are – it’s beautiful to get the love and be appreciated early on.

“It’s a good accomplishment. I hope we have many more wonderful and positive occasions.

“I am not getting ahead of myself. It’s still early in my time here, but things couldn’t have gone better so far.

“I need to stay calm, perform my best in every game, and give my all to whatever I do. That is the basic minimum. You will observe work ethic and hard labor, which should be expected of everyone.

“To be honest, they have only seen a small portion of what I am capable of. I believe that with more experience and working with the manager, I will be able to advance in my game.”

Everton’s Thierry Small (left) and Sheffield Wednesday’s Joey Pelupessy compete for the ball during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at Goodison Park in Liverpool. The picture will be taken on Sunday, January 24, 2021.
Small started out in West Bromwich Albion’s youth system before joining Everton at the age of 11. His appearance vs the

He made his Goodison Park debut as the Owls’ youngest player, replacing Jose Baxter.

“It was unbelievable for me and my family,” Small explained. “When I moved to Everton, I was in digs. I made several sacrifices to be there. I left home at a young age.

“So when I was on the field, it was like, ‘We have accomplished something really wonderful – we beat the statistics (for the number of academy players who fell by the wayside)’. It was a lovely experience.

“This was my first year of full-time football. I had just graduated from high school and was immediately accepted into a scholarship program; everything was new to me.

“I was pleased to be playing football and receiving your tiny scholar wages. I was just made up. Everything occurred so quickly, but I would not have had it any other way.”

Everton offered Small a three-year professional deal, with Bayern Munich, Manchester United, and Arsenal all keeping an eye on negotiations, but he chose for a new challenge on the South Coast, quickly.

after his seventeenth birthday.
“The way Everton was, I wish I could’ve left on better terms,” Small added. “The way it got out was not quite accurate; there was a lot of erroneous conjecture about the relocation to Southampton.

“Going there was simply a family decision to advance my career. You must take risks; sometimes they pay off, sometimes they do not; it is all part of life.

“It was a positive experience to be around the first-team environment at the age of 17. I don’t think many guys would have done that at my age, so the experience itself was incredible.

Coventry City’s Josh Eccles (left) and Southampton’s Thierry Small battle for the ball during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at St. Mary’s, Southampton. Picture date: Saturday February 5, 2022.
“It’s hard to adapt because I was new to first-team football. I went from being a scholar straight into a first-team environment in the Premier League. Transition-wise it was a little hard for me mentally to get used to that, it took a bit of a while.

“But then you have a few loans and develop, it’s a natural part of the game – you grow, not just as a player but also as a person.”

Small made temporary switches to Port Vale and St Mirren, joining the latter for the second half of last season and then again in August.

He picks out starting at Celtic in May – a 2-2 draw – as one of his highlights.
“There were 60,000 fans there,” said Small. “Celtic are a massive club and playing in front of that many people, you can’t describe the feeling unless you’re doing it.

“That was the moment in my short career so far where I was like ‘wow, I want to be doing this full-time for a while’.”

League One offers no experiences on a level with Parkhead. Although the fact that Charlton have had five away matches in their last seven means that Small has been able to play at Bolton, Portsmouth, Northampton, Cheltenham and Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium.

There is absolutely no saying that Small cannot get back to the elite level. Jones has talked about all of his squad – provided they totally buy-in to his process – being able to rapidly climb the football pyramid.

“I worked with the manager a little bit (at Southampton) when I came back off loan at Port Vale,” said Small. “We went to Spain and did a little camp when he first came. It is good to be back with him and have a familiar face.

“I love his intensity and what he wants us to do as players. He’s really demanding. You want to be under a manager who demands the best of his players and wants high standards all the time.

“It not only helps the team but it helps you as a player.

“Charlton is a sleeping giant. It’s got good ownership, it’s got good management and it’s got good players – so with the project around it everyone should be optimistic and excited about what is going to happen.

“As players, we’re excited. It’s simply about us laying the basis every day on the training pitch and maybe getting Charlton to where it needs to be one day, not too far in the future.

Charlton has the option to extend Small’s contract by another 12 months.

When asked if he would be delighted to stay, Small responded, “I’m here for everything. If it is what the club wants to accomplish, I would not turn it down.

“My current goal is to play as many games as possible for Charlton and to help the team end the season strongly. We’re having a good little run. Hopefully, we can retain this form going into the new season.”

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