Adebayo: Leaving Fulham for League Two football made me a stronger player

Deadline day recruit believes he made the right call in moving from Craven Cottage
New Luton signing Elijah AdebayoNew Luton signing Elijah Adebayo
New Luton signing Elijah Adebayo

New Luton signing Elijah Adebayo believes that the decision he made to drop out of the Premier League as a youngster to ply his trade in the lower leagues was the best one he could have made.

The 23-year-old began life at Craven Cottage, joining the Cottagers as an U9 and turning pro in 2016.

However, he never made a first team appearance and with the club in the top flight and Claudio Ranieri in charge, Adebayo headed out for loan spells at Cheltenham, Swindon and Stevenage.

Adebayo then signed permanently for Walsall in the summer of 2019 following his release by Fulham and was to prove a popular addition at the Banks’s Stadium.

He notched eight league goals in his first season, with 10 following this term in just 25 games, before Luton won the race for his signature on deadline day.

Looking back at his career, on moving away from Craven Cottage, Adebayo said: “It’s definitely made me stronger mentally, definitely, physically, too.

“I’ve had to cope with the style of play in League Two, which is quite physical, so the quicker you get your head around that, the best chance you have because it’s not always pretty.

“But those loans that I had towards the end of my Fulham career really helped me.

“The last 18 months was very crucial, I learnt so much about myself as a person.

“When things weren’t going right for me, I had to really knuckle down and have a chat with myself about how I’m going to get the best out of myself and just making sure I was on top of myself all the time.

"I think that made me mentally strong, which made me want to push on and know that I have to do these things in order to get to the next level because it doesn’t happen by cutting corners."

While at Fulham, Adebayo played 30 times for the U23s, scoring 10 goals, but found it a whole new experience when thrust in into the hustle and bustle of first team football.

Even after a full season in League Two last term, it wasn't until just before the first lockdown in March that forward began to feel at home in his new surroundings, as he continued: “A lot of people think that when you get released from an academy that you feel like you can just waltz into somewhere and it’ll be easy.

“But it’s actually very difficult to go from Under-23s football to men’s football. It’s completely different.

“The physical and mental challenge it puts on you is completely different.

“Three points mean everything, people’s lives and people’s jobs are on the line, so when you do go down to that level you have to pick that up fairly quickly.

“It took me six months to finally get my head around it.

“After Christmas and New Year was when I, thankfully, started thinking, ‘I need to start bucking up and doing the hard graft.’

“I think people at Walsall would’ve seen that in my performances.

"Before the season was curtailed last season, you could see a change in my personal performance, which then carried on when I came back. It was just about consistency.

"I would say the last 18 months definitely has put me in a good place.

"I had to knuckle down and pull my finger out, get myself ready to play at a higher level, that means working hard on and off the pitch."

Now at Luton, Adebayo is determined to continue his improvement and hopefully make the step back to the top flight once more, adding: "I know there’s a development environment, that’s why I felt it was the best choice for me.

“In order for me to get the best out of myself, I need to be in an environment where they want to develop players.

“I want to soak in as much as I can in order to push me to get to the next level."