The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

HE’S the 18-year-old who came from nowhere to scare the life out of Spurs and fire Sh­effield United to within a whisker of the League Cup fi­nal.

Yet just three months ago, Che Adams was turn­ing out for Non-League Ilke­ston and be­ing dressed down by their gaffer Kevin Wil­son.

It’s been an in­cred­i­ble rise for the for­mer Coven­try colt, who stepped off the bench and scored twice in two min­utes to wipe out a 2-0 ag­gre­gate deficit be­fore Chris­tian Erik­sen’s late goal broke Bra­mall Lane hearts.

Pro­moted to the Ilke­ston first team only in Au­gust, the pacy teenage striker swiftly gar­nered at­ten­tion and by early Oc­to­ber no fewer that 45 Foot­ball League clubs had sent scouts to the New Manor Ground.

And de­spite an im­pres­sive tally of nine goals and 11 as­sists, Wil­son warned that Adams was in dan­ger of blow­ing his chance at a big move.

“I knew I was be­ing watched,” says Adams, who had played only 136 min­utes of pro foot­ball be­fore fac­ing the Pre­mier League side. “And Kevin did, too.

“He said he thought I was get­ting dis­tracted and not play­ing my nor­mal game. And he was right – it was on my mind. If I did some­thing bad, I would think ‘Oh no – was some­one im­por­tant watch­ing, did a scout see that?’


“But I was just try­ing to get on with it and thank­fully it didn’t af­fect any­thing be­cause Sh­effield United came in.”

The Blades won the tug of war in Novem­ber, with Adams per­son­ally talked into sign­ing by manager Nigel Clough.

“I came up to meet Nigel and he just came over as a re­ally nice, gen­uine guy,” says Adams, whose child­hood idols were Pa­trick Vieira and Thierry Henry.

“He told me he wasn’t afraid to play young­sters and if you look at his teams over the years that’s been ob­vi­ous. He’s also man­aged in Non-League for a lot of years so if he sees some­thing in you then it maybe means a bit more.

“At the time, he said I was one for the fu­ture so I wouldn’t have ex­pected to be play­ing against Tot­ten­ham two months later.”

So what did Adams think when Clough told him to get stripped and take on the likes of Erik­sen and Harry Kane?


“I just thought ‘Go for it’,” laughs Adams, who col­lected the shirt of ex-Blade Kyle Walker as a sou­venir. “We started as un­der­dogs and by the time I came on we were 2-0 down as well. I didn’t have any­thing to lose.

“I’m not re­ally a ner­vous per­son in gen­eral. And to be hon­est, I was just so happy to be on the pitch.

“Ob­vi­ously the dif­fer­ence be­tween Ilke­ston and Sh­effield United is mas­sive. When you’re out there, you can’t even hear your­self think, let alone speak.

“But once you start play­ing, all that kind of fades into the back­ground. You just play like you al­ways have. It’s not like I’m tak­ing some­one on and think­ing ‘Woah, that’s Kyle Walker’. It’s just an­other player in an­other game.

“I was buzzing with the goals, but it was ob­vi­ously over­shad­owed when Erik­sen scored the win­ner right at the death. Go­ing out and know­ing you’d come so close to reach­ing the League Cup fi­nal was a hor­ri­ble feel­ing.”

Now Adams is just hop­ing for a few more games – and to show Coven­try what they missed.

“They told me that they thought I wouldn’t de­velop,” says Adams, who rekin­dled his ca­reer at Oadby Town be­fore join­ing Ilke­ston’s schol­ar­ship scheme.

“I’m not sure ex­actly which way they meant it – phys­i­cally or tech­ni­cally – but I don’t un­der­stand how they could be so sure at the age of 14! But I’ve worked my way back and hope­fully I can prove them wrong.”

PIC­TURES: Pin­na­cle

WHAT A MO­MENT: De­fender Jay McEve­ley rushes in to congratulate Che Adams, sec­ond from left, on his sec­ond goal against Spurs

OLD AND NEW: Che Adams play­ing for Ilke­ston and scor­ing his first against Tot­ten­ham

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