Who is Freddie Ladapo?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on April 4, 2016
Being a Maidstone season ticket holder, I have seen Freddie Ladapo play on a couple of occasions. The first time I ever heard of the 23 year old was from another Maidstone fan; ‘have you see that Freddie Ladapo? Quality striker, he’s got real potential. Maidstone would do well to pick him up’
The first time I witnessed him was in March 2015, Maidstone beat Margate 2-1 in a huge top of the table clash. That Maidstone fan was right, he did stand out on the day, he didn’t score a goal but came across as a strong player, great at holding the ball up and bringing wingers into play. Standing 6’2 (about the same height as Wickham or Adebayor) he was quite a handful and caused the Maidstone defence quite a few problems that afternoon.
Ladapo started at Colchester’s academy and was brought through the ranks, loan moves to Thurrock, Chelmsford and Bishops Stortford triggered his first professional contract. Colchester signed Freddie Ladapo on a one-and-a-half-year deal in March 2012, he was given his first opportunity on Boxing Day 2012, appearing as a 70th minute sub but failing to make an impact as Colchester lost 3-1 against Brentford. His second opportunity was 3 months later; again Ladapo was introduced as a sub, this time replacing the legend that is Clinton Morrison. This time Colchester drew 0-0 with Hartlepool.
Surprisingly, despite only scoring 1 goal in 2 years, Colchester offered Ladapo a one year extension to his contract. Soon after, Ladapo was back on the road, a 1 month loan move to Woking to reinforce Garry Hill’s attack. He featured in 4 matches over that one month, however failed to score as Woking lost 3 of them. Ladapo returned to Colchester, playing twice more before being loaned to Nuneaton on an initial 1 month loan in November 2013. He made his Nuneaton debut in a 2-2 draw with Hyde, opening the scoring before departing the field with 5 minutes to play. In his next game, he was used as an 85th minute substitute but on this occasion went on to score an injury time winner against Welling United in a 2-1 win.
In January 2014, Ladapo was free to leave Colchester and subsequently signed for Kidderminster Harriers. He made his debut in the FA Cup at The Stadium of Light, Kidderminster were defeated 1-0 by Premier League Sunderland. However, this move didn’t seem to work out either, struggling to break into the first team and only featuring in 3 games without scoring. Another loan move was inevitable; in March 2014, Ladapo was Hayes and Yeading United bound; yet again failing to supply any consistency, scoring just 2 goals in 11 games.
At the start of the 2014/15 season, Grays Athletic offered Ladapo a lifeline to try and resurrect his quite stagnant and anything but prolific career; a 6 month loan deal saw the once League 1 striker playing Isthmian League football. He excelled at this level, scoring 17 goals in 26 games between August and January, however in January 2015 Ladapo’s contract was terminated by ‘mutual consent’.
The very next day Isthmian side Margate signed Ladapo in a bid for promotion. Although Margate did not win the League, they did go up via the play-offs. Freddie Ladapo contributed 13 goals in 19 games.
This season, Ladapo has kept up that level of consistency, playing in the Conference South. Netting 12 times this season, he has helped Margate to pretty muchsecure safety for this year.
Charlie Austin, Jamie Vardy, Troy Deeney, Kevin Phillips, Rickie Lambert, Ian Wright and Les Ferdinand have all taken a similar path to Ladapo, starting at the very bottom of the footballing pyramid. There really are gems to be found in the semi-professional world of football.
I for one am extremely excited by Crystal Palace’s latest acquisition; the fee reported to be around £50,000, means there really is nothing to lose. Although Ladapo is not available to play this season and will probably find a loan somewhere in the football league next season, I am hopeful that he will get an opportunity at Palace in one form or another.