The globetrotting career of Peterborough United academy player that includes, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and Sutton Coldfield

Posh academy player Kobe Jae Chong may only be 20-years-old, but he has already had a remarkable career.

Sunday, 14th November 2021, 5:00 am
Updated Sunday, 14th November 2021, 7:56 am
Kobe Jae Chong signing for Posh. PhotoL Joe Dent.

The central midfielder, who was born in Birmingham, only a stone’s throw away from St Andrews, joined Posh’s Under 23 side in August and even that caused quite a stir. Chairman Darragh MacAnthony suggested, on his Hard Truth podcast, that sales of Posh shirts in Malaysia sky-rocketed after the move. Chong is of both Malaysian and Jamaican descent.

He joined Posh following a short trial in pre-season which saw him play and score twice against Gaby Zakuani’s Spalding United.

Before that, he had spent time with Solihull Moors, Banbury United, Redditch and was playing for Sutton Coldfield Town in the Northern Premier League Division One Midlands, England’s 8th tier. His Linkedin profile states that he was working in the local Asda at the time, but his story has so many more layers.

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He signed for West Brom as a nine-year-old but even before that was taken to Strike Soccer Schools as a two-year-old and was taken to Brazilian futsal camps aged just six by his father, who himself is a former professional basketball player for Birmingham Blues.

Things were progressing well until his dad heard through a contact at Sporting Lisbon that there was a chance for his son to earn a contract there. He jumped on the chance and without even telling West Brom, the pair jetted off. When an offer was not forthcoming, he was ticked off by the Baggies for taking his privileged position for granted and was duly released.

In an interview with The Sun, he said: “Dad was over the top with me. I trained at the Futsal schools all week. He made me train at 6am before school, doing 1000-odd kick-ups in the kitchen.

“He made me do it, but it benefited me in the end because it gave me an advantage over the other kids. When you are that age, it is not down to yourself, If I knew what I know now then I would have tried to handle it differently, and if my dad was correctly advised, he would have got Sporting to get in touch with West Brom.

“We should have at least informed West Brom that I wouldn’t be turning up to training, but my dad didn’t take them seriously. For him, it was more of a ‘f*** it let’s go.’ He was so excited because of Ronaldo and it being the best academy in the world. He got a rush of blood and didn’t think about how it could affect me if it didn’t go to plan.

“My dad sent off videos of me playing to Lisbon and they asked me over again but I struggled physically playing in 35 degree heat every day. I wasn’t up to it.”

The footage didn’t go to waste though as Italian Serie A side Cagliari got hold of the footage and invited him over to play in a tournament. After impressing the coaches, they gave it the hard sell and so, Chong returned to England, finished Year 10 (school year for 14-15 year-olds) and skipped his GCSE year to sign a contract with them.

He spent three years in the club’s Under 16 and 17 sides but admitted to struggling due to his heritage.

He added: “It’s not a great place to be a foreigner. You can be treated quite badly. You are forced to accept it and get used to it, people staring at you. I couldn’t speak the language at that time and I felt like an outcast.

“My success out there was staggered. Our U17 coach would keep the same team week in week out. He believed in the starting XI until the end of time.”

After continuing to struggle being abroad, he returned home at 18 and spent a year on Solihull’s football college course. He also attended a Non League Gems event and was spotted by scouts from Brentford, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield. He attended trials at all three and was offered a contract by Brentford, only for the club to pull out at the last minute.

The devastating blow was yet another setback, but he pushed on; turning out for Banbury and Redditch before lockdown and finally Sutton Coldfield before Posh secured his signature.

There were rumours that Leicester and Wolves were interested in acquiring him last summer but he is now focused on trying to earn his big breakthrough at Posh.

He said: “At the end of the day, football works in mysterious ways but I am very confident I will go far in football and make a living and a name for myself.”