Who is Jacob Wakeling? Peterborough United have signed a 'little Jamie Vardy'
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Like the Premier League and FA Cup winner, 21-year-old Wakeling - who has signed a three-year contract with Posh - knows what it is like to drop out of an Academy into non-league football at a young age.
In Wakeling’s case, he was released by West Brom as an 18-year-old and found himself playing for nearby Alvechurch in the Southern Premier League Central Division (step 3 of non-league).
In his brief spell - from summer until November 2020 - he scored seven times in 11 matches, including a stunning hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Barwell and was deployed both as a winger and a centre forward.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Wakeling said: "When I started playing for Alvechurch, I had no intention to push on to start with, it was just about getting back to playing regular football and enjoying myself again.
"When I started doing well and scoring goals, a few clubs in the National League were interested and that's when I really started to want to move up the leagues. I had the chance to go National League, but I believed I could play higher than that.
"I always believed in myself - I think that's what you've got to do as a footballer, even when things aren't going well.
His fine form tempted Premier League Leicester City to swoop in and sign him where he was at the club as Vardy, a player he admits he based a lot of his game on.
He added: "Leicester was a really good time.
"It was a crazy period - within a year, I had gone from training at a park to training at a £100m training ground with the Leicester first team and having the chance to speak to Brendan Rodgers. I had to pinch myself at times.
"When I was at West Brom, a lot of the coaches said I was like a little Jamie Vardy. I've had a similar route to him, dropping into non-league and then coming back up. I don't think he even knew my name though, if I'm honest! I liked to watch him train, though, because I've always based my game on his."
Wakeling played three times for the Foxes in the EFL Trophy across the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, scoring twice in three matches.
He then spent an unsuccessful six month loan spell at League Two Barrow between January 2022 and the summer where he only played four times without scoring.
He suffered the pain of being released once again before bouncing back once again, signing for Swindon just a month later.
Wakeling scored four times and made three assists in his opening 10 games, prompting the Robins to tie him down to a new contract to run until 2026 in just September, having signed in the summer.
He ended the campaign with eight goals in 46 matches, having played all across the forward line.
After his breakout campaign, Darren Ferguson described Wakeling as a ‘real pest in the way that he presses. He is a strong runner, a good size, he can play wide, but he is predominantly someone who plays down the middle.’
Wakeling added: "My preferred position is as a No 9, on my own or in a two, but I've played all over - left, right and I've even recently had a little stint at left wing-back as well! It's a learning experience for me, playing in different positions and adapting, because that's what you've got to do as a professional footballer.”
Posh fans may get their first look at Wakeling next Tuesday (September 12) as they host Cambridge in the EFL Trophy, but Wakeling has in fact already played at London Road this season.
He came on as a 66th minute substitute in the 1-1 draw between the sides, but did not get the take part in the shootout given that his side missed two of their first three penalties.