Deji Elerewe crowned LFE League One Apprentice of the Year

Academy graduate Deji Elerewe was crowned the LFE League One Apprentice of the Year at Sunday evening’s 2022 EFL Awards ceremony in London.

Academy Manager, Steve Avory, hailed Elerewe as a “role model to his peers” after the 18-year-old collected his award.

The award recognises the outstanding young professionals at EFL clubs who excel both on and off the pitch. 

Elerewe has appeared in 11 men’s first team games this season, signed his first professional contract in November and continued to shine in his studies.

Speaking shortly after collecting his award, Elerewe said: “It feels great, honestly. I was nervous in the crowd but now I’ve got the award, it feels amazing. It’s been a surreal season – I’ve played U18s but jumping to the first team is very different. I want to thank the gaffer, Johnnie Jackson, and also the old gaffer, Nigel Adkins – they have given me opportunities to play. 

“I’ve enjoyed the off the pitch work, that is testament to the club’s Head of Education, Joe Francis. He’s helped me to get me to do A Level Maths and doing very well on the BTEC course as well. The A Level work was stressful to begin with but after a while you get used to it and I’ve found it good, because doing A Levels adds to your repertoire.

“We do player care. It’s really helpful for us because it helps us to understand how to take care of yourself and your well-being as well.”

Avory attended the awards dinner and was pleased to see Elerewe, who has been at the club since he was an U12, win the award.

He said: “It is thoroughly deserved for the lad. Who would have known this time last year that he would have achieved what he has done at first team level and then come back at the end of the season to be considered for the first team after quite a long lay-off with a knee injury.

"An up and down year in some respects but he’ll be reflecting on a year that has been a huge step in his career pathway.

“He is a role model to his peers within his group because he is such a consistent individual day-in, day-out in terms of his dedication, his willingness to learn and practice hard. He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low – he is a very stable individual and I think that will stand him in a good stead throughout his career.

“This is not just about what you’ve achieved through the football side but also the education, which Joe Francis has contributed to enormously with him. The player care side of the club as well, that I know Deji buys into enormously well, in terms of the mental qualities required to become a professional footballer. He’s been in our environment since U12 – he’s another example of our belief in long-term development for players. It’s so rewarding when you get someone come through from such a young age, right through to where he is now. He’s got a lot more to develop, but he knows that, and he will.”

Elerewe follows in the footsteps of fellow academy graduates Joe Gomez, Ademola Lookman and Jordan Cousins in being nominated for Apprentice of the Year recognition with Lookman winning the Championship award in 2016 and Cousins taking home the League One gong in 2012.

The Charlton defender was up against Freddie Draper of Lincoln City and Michael Williams of Crewe Alexandra for the award.

Elerewe’s was one of two Charlton award winners at the ceremony as Ryan Inniss was named PFA Player in the Community.

Charlton fans can support the academy by signing up to the Valley Gold scheme. Valley Gold enables fans to support the club's academy in unearthing the talents of tomorrow, as well as giving them the chance to win cash prizes.

Click here for more information on how you can become a Valley Gold member.

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