Crichlow: setback a blessing in disguise
Kane Crichlow is determined to seize his opportunity at Watford and fulfil his childhood dream of playing in the Premier League.
After being released by Sky Bet League One club AFC Wimbledon, the Bermuda Under-20 midfielder’s future in the professional game was facing uncertainty, before it had even really begun.
However, the setback was to prove a blessing in disguise as the 18-year-old impressed during a trial with Watford — including scoring twice and setting up another against the Crystal Palace’s academy — so much so that the club handed Crichlow a two-year deal.
“When I found out I was being released by AFC Wimbledon it was upsetting, but at the time I didn’t realise what a blessing in disguise it was, said Crichlow, who will part of Watford’s under-23 development squad.
“The previous manager got sacked and the new manager wasn’t really a fan of the academy team from the start.
“He never really looked my way and I wasn’t given a chance. Then I was told I should start looking elsewhere for another club.
“From there I was given a chance at Watford. My agent has a lot of contacts and so it was his way of throwing me in at the deep end to see how I’d cope.
“I went out on trial early in April and obviously I did enough to impress them; I’m just so excited to be given the opportunity.
“It’s just a crazy feeling really to think I’ve signed for a Premier League club.
Having grown up watching the league on TV, it’s amazing to think I have the opportunity to make my childhood dream come true.”
The former BAA player, who has captained the island at under-17 and under-15 level, started his journey to playing abroad when he was just 12 years old, having moved to Barcelona as part of World Sport Academy UE Cornellá Residency Programme.
Crichlow admitted the move equipped him with not only the skill set, but also the mindset, to succeed away from home, something that other Bermudian players have sometimes struggled with in the past.
“Going over to Spain really helped my development as a young player,” he added. “I developed my style of play while out there and more importantly it was a good life experience.
“It made me get used to being away from home and that’s an important part of trying to pursue a career overseas; it definitely helped when I moved to England.”
While his dream of playing in the Premier League may be a little while away just yet, Crichlow is determined to make his mark with the development squad when he starts pre-season training on July 1, and do all he can to catch the eye of not only Richard Thomas, the Watford academy manager, but first team manager Javi Gracia as well.
“Hopefully, I’ve already impressed them from what they’ve seen so far and I want to just keep showing them my quality in the final third,” Crichlow added. “I love to go up against players one versus one and express myself.
“I don’t feel like playing for Watford’s under-23s will be a huge jump to what I’m used to already. I feel I can raise my level to wherever it needs to be and I’m ready for the challenge.
“My aim is to get my head down, work hard and if the manager ever needs me I’ll always do my best.
“I’ve seen a lot of Watford as a club because of them being in the Premier League and they’ve had a great season this year; it seems like an exciting time to be at the club.
“It’s also good for me with the manager being from Spain. It might help being able to communicate with him in Spanish, and it’s also exciting that I’ll be around some great players.”
Crichlow said that watching Nahki Wells, of Premier League club Burnley, has given him inspiration to follow in the striker’s footsteps in England’s top flight, while he also holds hopes of joining Wells on the pitch at international level in the near future.
“Seeing players like Nahki making it to the Premier League has been a huge inspiration,” he added.
“I spoke to him on a few occasions while I was at AFC Wimbledon and he would always give me advice to keep my head down, work hard and always stay grounded. It would be great to be involved with him and Bermuda at competitions like the Gold Cup and the Nations League, but I know there is a lot of talent already involved in the squad.
“I know the squad are preparing really hard for Gold Cup and I’ll just have to wait for my chance, if it comes.”
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