After signing a new contract that commits him to the club until 2021 George Lapslie admitted he wants to one day captain the Addicks.
The 21-year-old joined the Charlton Academy at the age of 10 and after some impressive performances in the first team today put pen to paper on a new deal.
When asked about the possibility of captaining Charlton the combative midfielder responded with a large grin: “It’s definitely a goal. I think everyone here will probably say it is their goal to be the captain and be the leader. I’ll just keep working hard, day-in and day-out. I’ve got to get my spot I the team first.”
If he does get there, it will have been a long journey with the club. Academy Manager Steve Avory insisted: “His attitude never changed. Never ever changed. What you see there in training everyday - he runs around, he has fantastic energy and fitness level.
“The running sometimes got the better of him when he was a bit younger but I think what he’s taken on board now by working with Lee (Bowyer) and Johnnie Jackson is a better understanding tactically.”
It’s that improvement to his game that The Valley-faithful have seen this season under the guidance of a management team that includes two former Premier League midfielders.
Bowyer said: “He’s always been a lad that leaves everything out there – I don’t think anyone can deny that – but it’s the in-possession stuff he’s improved on a lot and he’s maturing and obviously learning.
“You have to know what’s around you as a midfielder and that is where he has improved a lot. He’s taking less touches on the ball. As a whole package he’s improved. He’s got a good future in front of him.”
That development this season has been so key. He’s had the opportunity and very much taken it.
Head of Recruitment Steve Gallen explained: “I think at the end of last year he wasn’t part of the first team squad to be honest. Lee gave him a chance in the summer, partly because we were a bit short in that position, and he was great in pre-season. He’s cemented himself now over the last six months from being someone on the periphery to being a first team squad member in every game.
“Lee’s done well, putting him in there and giving him an opportunity and George has responded brilliantly and really matured as a player. He’s strong, hard-working, honest football player who can play as well.”
It’s not just Bowyer and Jackson that deserve the credit though. Lapslie is the latest of many to come through the Charlton Academy and play in the first team.
He’s thankful for the opportunity: “People like Steve Avory have got to get a lot of credit for what they do, the hard work they put in behind the scenes. They probably don’t get the credit they deserve. I’d be a lot less than what I am without Steve.
“This year in particular for me, having Lee Bowyer and Jacko has been unreal for me and really propelled me to where I am. I’m grateful to everyone that has helped me get to where I am.”
It’s his attitude to hard work and his ability to take advice on board that Gallen, Avory and Bowyer all praised.
Avory added: “I’m so pleased for George because there can’t be a more hard-working, dedicated young man. We have quite a few here, who can do that. I don’t want to put him on a pedestal above others in that respect but he is such a hard-working, young man. Even at his age he is such a role model to show to our scholars, who are only a few years younger.
“We say ‘have a look at George Lapslie and the way he goes about himself each and every day and each and every game you see him play’. I’m so pleased for him. Last season he was having a tough time. It wasn’t working out with consistent performances at Under 23 level but he wants to know why, knock on your door and ask for help and guidance.
“He asks you to look at things with him, ask what he’s got to work on. That’s typical George and that’s served him well in terms of where he is now. He won’t want to let the opportunity he’s been given go.”
An interview with Lapslie following the signing of his contract is available on Valley Pass. A half-season pass costs just £30, while a monthly pass is £6.50. Click here to sign-up.