Fulham have always had a successful academy, with a number of players breaking into the first team over the years. The Cottage has seen the likes of Johnny Haynes, George Cohen, Sean Davis and Ryan Sessegnon rise through the ranks to walk out onto that hallowed turf as part of the first team.
However, it’s not been plain sailing for a number of young players, who for one reason or another, have not quite made the cut, or lived up to the potential that the club were expecting. Whether these players were scouted at a young age, or brought in from another academy as a future prospect for Fulham, some have made it elsewhere, and some have unfortunately found their futures away from the professional game.
Here, we take a look at three who were thought to have an exciting future with The Cottagers, but these days they sport the colours of a different team…
- Current Team: Grimsby Town
- Age: 25
- Former Clubs: Fulham, MK Dons (loan), Gillingham (loan), MK Dons (second spell, loan), St Johnstone (loan), Forest Green Rovers
- Club Career Appearances: 133
- Club Career Goals: 12
- Wales Caps: 7
- Fulham Appearances: 17
- Fulham Debut: Fulham 0-1 Millwall (16/08/2014)
After the mass exodus in the squad following relegation from the Premier League in 2014, Williams was one of a number of young players given the chance to prove himself by Felix Magath. Williams’ first team debut came against Millwall in a 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage.
Williams joined Fulham from MK Dons in June 2012, just 7 months after scoring on his first team debut for the Dons in a 6-0 FA Cup victory over Nantwich Town, making him the youngest ever player to score in the history of the competition. But this was just the start of what was set to be a promising career for the young winger.
His debut for Fulham was unique, as Williams had already won his first cap for Wales in a friendly against Holland just two months prior to the Millwall game. To this day, Williams has 7 caps for Wales’ senior squad, and was even a part of the Euro 2016 squad that reached the semi finals in France, however he did not make an appearance.
Following a series of loan spells and a serious injury, the Welsh international left the club at the end of his contract in 2018, going on to sign for Forest Green. In his time at the New Lawn, Williams made 42 appearances in League Two, scoring 8 goals.
The 25 year old signed for Grimsby Town last summer, joining the Blundell Park outfit on a free transfer. Williams joined when The Mariners had Ian Holloway in charge, who left last year and was eventually replaced by Paul Hurst. Unfortunately, Grimsby finished bottom of the football league and were relegated to the conference last season. So far, George has made 23 appearances, scoring 2 goals and providing 3 assists.
Many Fulham fans knew there was something special about Williams, and with his senior international caps, the winger was set to be a key player for the Whites as they looked to rebuild in the Championship. A combination of a lack of opportunities and a serious injury were arguably the deciding factor in Williams’ lack of future with Fulham, and are contributing factors to why he will be plying his trade in England’s fifth tier next season.
- Current Team: Brescia
- Age: 28
- Former Clubs: Fulham, Maidenhead United (loan), Cambridge United (loan), FC Lahti (loan), Accrington Stanley (loan), Stevenage (loan), AC Horsens, FC Copenhagen
- Club Career Appearances: 174
- Club Career Clean Sheets: 41
- Club Career Goals: 1
- Finland Caps: 14
- Fulham Appearances: 7
- Fulham Debut: Ipswich 2-1 Fulham (09/08/2014)
Jesse Joronen joined Fulham’s academy in 2009 at the age of 15 from Simpeleen Urheilijat. During his time with the Cottagers, the goalkeeper had a number of loan spells, including a one-day loan at Cambridge United, returning to his parent club after refusing to be named as a substitute for the *U??’s*.
Joronen was given his Fulham first team debut in the clubs first game back in the Championship, away at Ipswich. The number 40 conceded two goals as the visitors went on to lose 2-1. Despite starting the first few games of the season for the Cottagers, Joronen found his opportunities limited thereafter, with Marcus Bettinelli given a chance between the sticks and Gabor Kiraly bought in as a back up goalkeeper.
After a number of loan spells at the likes of Accrington Stanley and Stevenage, Joronen turned down a new contract in 2017 in favour of joining Danish side AC Horsens. His spell at The Yellow Danger would last just one season, as he joined division rivals FC Copenhagen. Joronen made 38 appearances in a one year spell at the Danish Giants, as a move to Serie A side Brescia loomed. Joronen’s first season at Le Rondinelle would see him play with Mario Ballotelli, at a club run by former Leeds chairman Massimo Cellino.
After being relegated, Joronen stayed at Brescia, and his side currently sit in 10th place of Serie B after 30 games. The Finnish international, who has 10 caps for his national side, has made 59 appearances so far for his club.
Despite his time at Fulham not working out, Joronen has shown his ability to be a good goalkeeper with international caps and playing in one of Europe’s top 5 leagues. Some will say he wasn’t given the chance, but under Felix Magath, no one’s place at the club was certain, and Joronen was unlucky not to have been given a longer run of games for the Whites.
- Current Team: Frosinone
- Age: 28
- Former Clubs: Fulham, Wycombe Wanderers (loan), Watford (loan), Brentford (two seasons on loan), Barnsley (loan), Avellino (loan), Sassuolo (loan), Crotone (two seasons on loan), Frosinone, Ascoli (loan), Famalicão (loan)
- Club Career Appearances: 272
- Club Career Goals: 71
- Fulham Appearances: 3
- Fulham Debut: Everton 2-1 Fulham (27/01/2012) FA Cup
Marcello Trotta started his youth career at Napoli in his native Italy before deciding to move to England, joining Manchester City. His spell with City lasted just three months before he joined Fulham in September 2009, signing a professional contract with the Cottagers.
Trotta had numerous loan spells whilst at Fulham, with his first being an initial one month loan to Wycombe, which was extended by a further month. Trotta’s prolific spell with the Chairboys saw the Italian score 8 goals in 8 games, and led to a one month loan move to Watford, in which he only made one appearance for the Vicarage Road outfit.
In January of the 2011/12 season, Trotta made his debut for Fulham in an FA Cup defeat to Everton before making his Premier League debut as a substitute against Bolton in a 3-0 away win. These were two of Trotta’s three senior appearances during his time at the club.
Trotta had two loan spells at neighbours Brentford, with the first including the 94th minute, penalty incident against Doncaster Rovers at Griffin Park, with the score at 0-0. The Italian missed the penalty, and Donny went down the other end, won the game, and the league, sending Brentford into the play offs, where they eventually lost the final against Dan Burn’s Yeovil. After Trotta’s penalty, Fulham fans used the phrase “Agent Trotta” to describe the striker’s spell with our neighbours.
His second season at Brentford saw them automatically promoted to the Championship, and despite slight interest in securing the Italian’s services permanently, interest cooled as the summer went on.
Since leaving Fulham permanently in 2015, Trotta has had spells with a number of clubs in his native Italy, with clubs Avellino, Sassuolo and Crotone(2 loan spells). The striker, who represented his country from Under 16 to Under 21 level, he was on loan at Cosenza from fellow Serie B side Frosinone but has now returned to his parent club. Trotta, now aged 28, has spent most of his career on loan, and has never really been able to settle.
Trotta never lived up to his potential, however this may be due to a lack of opportunities with Fulham, as his caps at youth level make it clear to see he had the ability to develop into a fine player.