The U18s have the X-Factor

While Charlton's U18s continue to adapt to life and training at home, the team decided to challenge themselves to an X-Factor competition to help past the time in-between their usual fitness regime.

The young Addicks, who have been maintaining their fitness whilst coronavirus continues to halt the football season, filmed their comical renditions of famous songs with Academy Goalkeeper coach Deren Ibrahim acting as judge.

"The boys have been working extremely hard. They’ve been sent all their programmes by the sports scientists and the strength and conditioning guys so they’ve still been grafting!

"Within the management team, we’ve got our own WhatsApp and we were wondering how we can get them to continue to socialise and do something a bit more light-hearted."

When the idea of doing an X-Factor themed competition came about, Ibrahim was quick to be involved.

"Me being me, I said I’d be the host! It was a good crack and the boys proper bought into it. It was brilliant to see their confidence grow as the videos went on;

"Harry Taylor, who did the boxing one, he’s only just signed two weeks ago! But it was good because it gave them something to look forward to.

"We split the rounds up over the last couple of days and then at half seven every night we had to get on our WhatsApp.

"We then did a movie night where the boys had to pick a film theme and then we had the final where we tried to get everything involved and go outside the box. And that’s exactly what they did, they went out the box so credit to them!"

Captain of the side Billy French explained how he was more than happy to get involved with the idea whilst the nation continues life in lock-down.

" I thought I might as well go all in because I've got nothing else to do while I'm stuck at home! With all of my auditions I tried to get in costume and go into character then with the final. I managed to get the whole family involved."

French continued admitting his competitive nature spurred him on to reach the final.

"Whenever there's a challenge I'm always competitive, whether it's to do with fitness or something funny like this ,and whenever I've done my initiations I'll always go big for it. I'm captain of the U18s so I'm normally quite serious and I've been called the James Milner of the group!

"I can be quite serious and get the job done, but it's nice to do this and show the comical side as well. 

"It's been a difficult time with trying to stay fit and trying to impress, so it's good that we've got these fun things planned to do."

Having reached the final, French ended up winning the competition narrowly beating Freddie Barton's rendition of The Weeknd's 'Blinding Lights', getting his family involved with a cover of Madness' Baggy Trousers.

"Because it was the final, we looked at some big old classics. We just spent the best part of the morning looking for songs to do and I ended up playing 'Our House' ​by Madness and then I had the idea of them going a bit loopy with the family in the background.

"We settled on doing Baggy Trousers instead because more people have heard of it."

Watch Billy's rendition of "Baggy Trousers" below...

Ibrahim explained it was a tough call to make in the final.

"I got sent Freddie’s one first with him and his sisters doing the dance, and thought this has got to be the nailed on winner! I thought ‘no one's going to beat that’ and then Billy French’s come in and it was outrageous. How he got everyone involved was just quality.

Deren finalised by once again explaining that doing something fun like this is great for everyone in what is a strange period.

"When you're with the same bunch of guys on a daily basis and you all share that one passion about football it’s difficult being away from it all. I probably see the guys at Charlton more than I do on my own family because you’re there from nine until six or seven depending on if I’m coaching the younger ones.

"It’s all about having that little bit of fun together again. Don’t get me wrong when we’re at the training ground we all work hard but you do have that bit of a laugh in your down time and when you’re in the dressing room."

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