Kieron Cadogan is one of three English players currently at Sutton United who have played abroad. As well as Wayne Brown and Tom Bolarinwa, Cadogan, a 28-year-old winger, gained life experience playing abroad before returning to England. In his case, it was in Sweden with second division club GAIS where he spent two-and-a-half seasons.
“I was in talks with an agent who wanted to represent me and he had a good relationship with Henrik Larsson, who knew the manager of GAIS. He then proposed to me the chance to go to Sweden,” says Cadogan.
“At the time, I had just left Barnet in the Conference and wanted a different challenge. I felt at the time the football in the Conference wasn’t best suited to me and I wanted to go somewhere where I would enjoy my football again and progress as a player.”
At the time, the winger was 24-years-old and coming to the end of a single season spell in north London with Barnet. Having grown up in the Crystal Palace academy and with over 20 appearances in the Championship with the Eagles to his name, the Tooting-born forward was looking for a return to a higher level football but he had to make his mind up quick.
“I was proposed the move on the Friday afternoon [back in the summer of 2014] with the Swedish transfer window closing on the Monday so I wasn’t left with much time to consider the move,” he says.
“I seeked advice from older players I look up to such as a mentor of mine Jamie Lawrence (a former Jamaica international) and took a leap of faith. Initially it was just until the end of their season, which meant a commitment of a few months so I could get settled and see how I fared out there.”
The former Palace man joined GAIS partway through the 2014 season. The Gothenburg club were looking for a return to the glory days of top flight football but instead on Cadogan’s arrival, they were attempting to avoid the drop to the third tier. It was important that the winger could settle in quickly and make an instant impact on the pitch. Luckily for GAIS, this was the case.
“Surprisingly I did [settle in well]. As GAIS was in Gothenburg, which is the second biggest city in Sweden, it had the feel of a cosmopolitan city so wasn’t to far off London.
“Also with it being a two hour plane journey back home, family and friends would visit regularly and I got opportunities to fly back home when I could, which was something I gratefully appreciated from the club to allow me to do so.”
Having settled in well, Cadogan went on to start eight of the club’s final nine games as he scored twice to help his side comfortably avoid relegation. It appeared that the Londoner had found a country perfectly suited to his style of play and ambitions.
“The standard was very good,” he says. “As well as the football, some of the stadiums were big and the fans were very passionate – there’s nothing better than playing in front of passionate fans!
“I found the level to be a little bit slower in build up through the thirds of the pitch but a lot of attention to detail was focussed on technical and tactical aspects of the game, which I thoroughly enjoyed.”
Although he had settled in well, he was soon to become surrounded by more familiar faces after agreeing a two year contract extension.
“In my first year, I was the only English player in the team, which I found very strange at first as I had never been in that position before.
“Liam Davis is a family member of mine and we spoke regularly. I encouraged him to come over and play as he just parted from Yeovil Town after a serious injury. I advised him to come and also enjoy his football after having a tough time through injury and getting his fitness back.
“It was nice to have him over as it made both of us feel like we were at home away from home.”
With Davis at the club, GAIS looked to improve on their previous campaign however, despite Cadogan playing a vital role at the club, missing just two league games all season, the club would again finish in 11th with the exact same points tally. On a personal note, Cadogan contributed an impressive six goals in all competitions. It was also an enjoyable time off the field as well.
“I quite enjoy my own space so I would just chill out majority of the time [off the pitch] but myself and Liam would have one night a week where we would have to cook for each other and have a battle off in the kitchen!
“I got to see places such as Stockholm and Copenhagen in Denmark as well which is something I never thought I would have [had the chance to].”
In his final season in Sweden, Davis would leave the club to return to England to join Cheltenham Town but he was replaced my another Englishman in the form of James Sinclair, who had built a career abroad having started life off at Bolton Wanderers.
Cadogan’s stats in his third season were remarkably similar to those of the previous season. He again scored five goals in 27 league starts but his side managed to finish eighth, improving on previous campaigns. It was after this season that the winger would return closer to home to join Sutton United of the National League where he has remained since.
He has continued to impress back home as Sutton look for promotion to the Football League for the first time but could he be tempted to head abroad once again?
“I’ve recently been blessed and had my son so if the right opportunity presented itself and it made and sense then I wouldn’t be closed to the idea.
“I think it’s something every player should experience as football is a short lived career and it really opens your eyes regarding your football maturity and development.
“But I am enjoying my football at Sutton United at the moment and focussed on going for promotion.”
Cadogan’s brave decision to take a gamble and move abroad allowed him to play in front of big crowds and experience different parts of the world he had never previously visited. If he has his way in the future, he will continue to experience different parts of the world, more specifically the parts of the world which host League Two football.