Jonathan Panzo and How English Youngsters Should Follow Suit
Jonathan Panzo is paving the way for youth players finding the unconventional path to stardom
Jonathan Panzo's journey started at Chelsea FC, Brockley born in October 2000 to Ivorian parents he joined the blues at age 9 with a dream common amongst most boys his age - to be a professional footballer.
The ambition of being a household name resides in the conscious of most youth players across Europe. It's a flawless journey for some, succeeding at an initial level then coming across that golden ticket of a big money move or a vote of confidence from your first team manager that kickstarts your pathway to stardom - players like Dele Alli and Mason Mount are prime examples of this rare and fairy tale experience. On the other hand, some players have their youth development days pass them by, the odd domestic cup appearance or even a first team goal to their name only to find themselves 23 years old and no longer on the RisingBallers Instagram page. These players usually end up in the lower leagues, rarely finding a career resurgence later on but usually ending their career at the middle of the football league hierarchy. But hey, look at Jamie Vardy, he had an ASBO to his name at the start of the decade now he has premier league records and milestones lining his pockets, anything is possible.
Jonathan Panzo however is navigating his own path to that premier league starting line up. Its not like the Left-Back is without any hype at all, representing England U21's and already holding a U17 world cup winners medal and also playing for Chelsea youth until he was 18. But it was July 2018 where he would take his first unique step away from English football. He signed for Monaco, renowned for making men out of boys and preparing young players for Europe's elite. He similarly played in the youth squad before making 2 appearances for Monaco's first team, most notably playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 win over Lorient in the Coupe de la ligue. But the queue of young players fighting each other for first team opportunities is long and unpredictable, especially at a club like Monaco raising so much promising talent. So Panzo bravely accepted the opportunity to go on loan to Belgian mid table side Cercle Brugge on the 30th of August 2019.
Panzo has made 10 appearances for Cercle up to the new year, slowly gaining confidence from the manager and his fellow teammates in his first season. A testing but not overwhelming competition like the Belgian Pro League will certainly be beneficial for the Englishman as he can get used to first team football and gain confidence at a suitable ability level, this will most certainly help him overcome difficulties in more challenging teams and leagues and most importantly give him what every teenager needs to succeed - experience.
Young players who are aware of Panzo's path should take notice and emulate his bravery and hunger for success. English players have the label of never leaving the British leagues but with the help of players like Jadon Sancho, Ethan Ampadu and now Jonathan Panzo, more young British talent can thrive by taking more brave and unconventional paths. When there's a will there's a way.