Whilst the first part of this where are they now special looked at those more successful graduates of the Fulham Academy, in this article we explore those players whose careers didn’t quite reach where they were hoped.
In both the pre and post Huw Jennings arrival eras Fulham’s Academy looked both locally and further afield for talent. Here are some of the more spectacularly obscure turns that Academy players careers took after leaving Motspur Park.
The commanding Ivorian centre back arrived at Fulham in 2009 from the same Abidjan football academy in the Ivory Coast that produced the likes of Aruna Lindane, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue. He impressed enough to earn a two year scholarship and was captain of the Fulham U18 side that lost to Everton in the first of the three consecutive Premier Academy League Finals. However, after moving on a free to Lorient when his scholarship ended at 23, Toure is now without a club having left the French side last summer.
Christian Marquez Sanchez
After the success of Cesc Fabregas coming through Arsenal’s academy, it seemed like everyone wanted their own Spanish youngster. Fulham’s was centre back Christian Marquez Sanchez. Another member of that first U18 final side in 2011, Marquez Sanchez left Fulham’s academy to sign for rich Spanish La Liga side Malaga. Unfortunately for Marquez, he failed to break into the first team and after spells with Malaga’s B side and Cordoba’s B side he joined Cadiz on a free transfer last summer. After featuring sparingly for their B side he last week signed Gimnastic de Tarragona in the second division but was immediately assigned to their reserve team CF Pobla de Manumet who play in Spain’s 3rd tier.
German midfielder Minkwitz was captain of the side that won the first of back-to-back Premier Academy Leagues in 2012. My own prediction that he’d be promoted to the first team and progress to the professional ranks while learning off Danny Murphy was sadly wrong. Having joined Fulham from German side VFB Stuttgart he failed to make the cut in England, Minkwitz was released by Fulham and eventually signed for Swiss second division side FC Wohlen where he has featured intermittently.
King Osei Gyan
Ghanaian midfielder King Osei Gyan was part of the great Fulham Germinal Beerschot experiment along with countryman Daniel Owusu. As anyone that played Championship Manager over the past 15 years or so will know, Belgian feeder clubs are the quickest way of getting players who wouldn’t get a work permit to play in England a European passport. The two Ghanaian midfielders joined Fulham from Ghana’s Right To Dream Academy and were immediately sent to Belgian minnows Germinal Beerschot as part of a feeder agreement. Unfortunately for both players, neither made it to Fulham. Owusu ended up signing for Finnish second tier side AC Oulu and after winning their player of the season in 2013 signed for Belgian 3rd division side KFC Turnhout. Gyan left Belgium after two seasons, signing for Viking Stavangar in Norway. Most recently he was at Swedish second tier side Halmstads but injury ended his 2015 season prematurely and he left Halmstads at the end of the last Swedish season. More recently he has been spending time back at the Right to Dream Academy and last week hosted former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the academy.
— Right to Dream (@right2dream) January 19, 2016
— Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) January 19, 2016
Perhaps the most obscure and bizarre Fulham academy story is that of midfielder Wayne Brown who has made a name for himself in Finland. Brown was first loaned to TPS Turku in 2009 as a 21 year old. With Roy Hodgson believing in the merit of Scandinavian football, Brown was the first of several loanees to venture north. Following his eventual release from Fulham, Brown moved to Bristol Rovers where he’d previously been on loan. From Bristol, Brown moved back to Finland and to TPS. After a year he moved to Seinäjoen Jalkapallokerho (SJK) in the small city of Seinajoki. The club was only formed in 2007, but Brown helped them to their first ever Finnish League title last season.
Joe Anderson & Alex Smith et al
Domestically, there are countless Fulham prospects that’ve failed to make the grade. Indeed there are quite a few recent ex-Fulham academy players dotted around the Football League such Darren Pratley (Bolton), Josh Passley (Dagenham & Redbridge), Matt Briggs (Colchester), Rob Milsom (Notts County), Michael Timlin (Southend), Josh Pritchard (Gillingham, now unattached) and Elliot Omozusi. However, there are also those who’s rise and fall is even greater. Joe Anderson made his debut away at Manchester City and was an unused substitute on five occasions in the Europa League including at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. He now plays part time for Bromley. Alex Smith made his Fulham debut in the Premier League at home to West Brom. In the time since, he’s played for Swindon and Yeovil and recently signed a short-term deal to play for non-league Woking. Others now out of the Football League include Dean Leacock who now plays for Whitehawk in Brighton and Keanu Marsh-Brown who’s at Forest Green Rovers.