Kieron Cadogan: Edgar Davids & Naked Warnock

With one right foot strike, the name Kieron Cadogan suddenly became a lot more well known on the other side of the Atlantic. The forward’s incredible halfway line effort against Wingate & Finchley in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifier was streamed live to Corinthian enthusiasts in Brazil, causing a viral sensation: the clip has over 80,000 views on Twitter alone. 

However here in England there’s plenty of people already familiar with Kieron’s exquisite touch. He has added genuine class to the Casuals forward line since joining, but prior to this he has led a fascinating career that has taken in Championship appearances for Crystal Palace, working alongside Dutch legend Edgar Davids at Barnet, and a spell in Sweden. 

Kieron spoke to Jarek Zaba about his career to date. 

JZ: How did your football career get started?
KC: As a kid I’d kick a ball anywhere I could, smashing up my mom’s plant pots and everything. She eventually got me into a local Sunday League side called Wonder Wanderers, and from there it got serious very fast – I was scouted for Arsenal around the age of seven. I was there for two years but the journey from Wandsworth became too much. Then I got picked up by Fulham at under 14s which was great for my development, before I got my big break at Crystal Palace at 16. 

JZ: Tell us about your Palace experience and some of the players you played alongside. 
KC: You had the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Victor Moses, Nathaniel Clyne, Sean Scannell, John Bostock. Plus Michail Antonio, who I’ve been friends with since I was a kid as we grew up in the same area. Everyone in that team was really close and it was a lovely club to be at. We didn’t really see other as rivals, even though we were competing for the same places. Perhaps we should have! But that was just how it was there at that time. 

I did well in the youth team and the reserve set up. I scored over 20 in one season and that’s what pushed me into the picture for the first team. I did well on a preseason tour of America and Neil Warnock, the manager at the time, told me I’d earned myself a pro contract and that I’d be a part of the team that season. Then with pretty much the last kick of the final game of the tour I fractured my ankle. 

But Neil kept to his word and I got fit again. I scored on my first team debut and played many more games in the Championship from there. 

JZ: How does a rocket from Neil Warnock compare to one from James Bracken? 
KC: I don’t think James has hit the heights of Neil Warnock yet! I remember one game at Southampton – it was 1-1 in the 88th minute and I had the ball in the corner. I started doing some skills – for my own enjoyment really – and lost the ball. They’ve countered on us. They didn’t score but in the changing room afterwards he was on his way into the shower. He just paused, turned around, and came up to me and starts going crazy, effing and blinding while completely naked! As an 18 year old, I was like, ‘What the hell…’ But I learned my lesson fast. James has never been naked in front of me shouting, so that’s a good sign! 

JZ: Where did you go after Palace?
KC: Unfortunately management changed quite a lot while I was there. I played the most under George Burley, but when Dougie Freedman took over I didn’t really feature. I ended up having a loan spell at Rotherham which was a bit of a culture shock – I was bored and homesick a lot of the time. Eventually my agent advised me to leave Palace to kickstart my career.

I was at Aldershot Town in League Two under Dean Holdsworth and really loved it there. But unfortunately they were relegated on the last day, which meant a new manager who wanted to shake up the whole team. That’s when I got the call from my former teammate at Palace, Edgar Davids, who had taken over at Barnet. He told me he was building something there and wanted me involved – and when Edgar Davids approaches you, you’ve got to go really. He had us playing a lovely style of football there. But, once again, he was sacked and the club culture changed. I realised my style of play didn’t really suit the Conference, and actual ended up with a team called GAIS in Gothenburg. 

JZ: That must have been quite an experience.
KC: I loved it. Initially they proposed I just go for a couple of months, and I was sceptical after my Rotherham experience. I’m a homeboy and it’s been me and my mum my whole life, so another country seemed daunting. But I fell in love with the city and ended up staying for two and a half years. 

JZ: So how did you end up at the Casuals? 
KC: It was through Nathaniel Pinney and Hakeem Adelakun, who I knew from my time at Palace. After Sweden, I had a spell at Sutton United and was playing for Wealdstone when they encouraged me to come down. It was a no brainer for me because I just wanted first team football. I called around people I knew had played for James, and they all told me he was a great coach with really thorough training and preparation for matchday. You don’t always get that at non league so that was a massive plus for me. 

JZ: How does an entirely amateur club compare to some of the professional clubs you’ve been at?  
KC: There’s lots of things at Casuals that make it feel like a professional setup. The standard of the dressing rooms, or the pitch for example – some other pitches at this level are borderline dangerous. Plus the fans are absolutely amazing as well!  

You might think an amateur club would take on anyone, but the opposite is true. James attracts such good players he doesn’t need to take on any bad eggs who might upset the balance of the team. Jack Strange for example is one of the most consistent players we have in the team – it’s crazy to me that he hasn’t played at a pro level. 

JZ: And what keeps you here?
KC: At this time in my life, it’s just the enjoyment of football. I also like to think that I can give advice and help some of the players that are coming into the game. I’m asked regularly by some of the younger players about my time at Palace, so I try and help them where I can. It’s exciting watching hungry talented players who can really kick on.   

This interview features in Episode 7 of Broadway to Brazil Series 2 – ‘Current Crop’. Other players interviewed include Ben Cheklit, Danny Bracken, and Robert Paratore. Listen on the player below, on our Podcasts page, or on podcast apps.