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Sopuruchukwu Obieri becomes the youngest player in club history

15 November 2023

Club News

Sopuruchukwu Obieri becomes the youngest player in club history

15 November 2023

Sopuruchukwu Obieri made Cheltenham Town history last Tuesday when he became our youngest ever player, coming on in our Bristol Street Motors Trophy clash with West Ham United U21s.

Aged just 15 years and 303 days, the club required the permission of both Sopuru's parents and school for Robins manager Darrell Clarke to be able to name him on the bench.

The forward replaced George Lloyd in the 77th minute to break the previous record held by teammate Cameron Walters, who was 16 years and 9 days when he made his debut last season.

Obieri has been with the club since he was 10-years-old, regularly playing in the older age groups which he has continued to do so, most recently starting for the under 18s in their FA youth Cup victory over Bristol Rovers.

He also currently holds the record for the most goals in a single Gloucester Primary Schools' FA campaign, breaking the previous record back in 2019.

The achivement is yet another brilliant story for the clubs academy, adding to the debuts for Walters, Brandon Liggett and Freddy Willcox as well as Tom King's League debut and call-up to the England U18s squad last month.

Upon Sopuruchukwu breaking the record, Academy Manager Tim Bell said:

"It provides the entire club with great satisfaction when one of our young players earns a senior first-team appearance."

"To be named in a first team squad and to make an appearance must be well earned and Sopuruchukwu has continually shown maturity beyond his years in his performances and shows a thirst to be the best he can be.

"Like so many of our young players, he has super strengths that allow him to compete and excel in the U18s at the age of 15.

"The first team Manager and his staff came to watch the U18s in the FA Youth Cup away at Bristol Rovers last week and a week later decided to give a group of them including Sopuruchukwu their opportunity vs West Ham."

Bell continued by giving further insight into the hard work behind the scenes done by the academy and the challenges of helping such talented young footballers.

"When boys join the Academy across the age groups their immediate challenge is to continually show their strength each week, this might be positive defending, a running midfielder, a dribble & driver or ability to strike a ball.

"Over time our staff work with the players to develop further elements to their game. We aim for our boys to become good athletes, enjoy learning and embrace the challenge.

"We recognise that development is not a straight line, it requires self determination and the correct challenge. Our coaches are excellent at providing varied challenges and the right challenge for each player.

"We like to think we can give players in our care 10,000 different experiences that they can look back on and be proud off wherever their football journey may lead."

As previously mentioned, it's been a succesful period for the academy, largely down to the opportunities and pahtways our young players are presented with. 

"Our first team have consistently provided our young boys with opportunities when it's the right time. To echo Adam Murray, age isn't a barrier if you are excelling and have that self determination.

"Every young footballer needs time and the right opportunity. Year after year our club is providing boys with a pathway to showcase what the future may hold.

"No young player is the finished article. Our academy staff and players know that we must do more than others and do it better. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we know that the opportunities will be afforded to them, whatever or wherever that might be."

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