Australian defender Jay Rich-Baghuelou has revealed his remarkable journey that has seen him go from the beaches of the Gold Coast to landing a deal with English Premier League club Crystal Palace.
Rich-Baghuelou, who hails from Tugan in south-east Queensland, signed an 18-month deal with Palace’s Under-23s in January.
The contract was the reward for several years of hard graft in England with non-league clubs Dulwich Hamlet and Welling United.
A towering centre back, Rich-Baghuelou was born in Sydney and spent his childhood growing up in France and then the Gold Coast.
At the age of 16, frustrated at the lack of opportunities in Australian football, he decided to move to England to ply his trade.
And earlier this year his gamble sensationally paid off with a deal with the Eagles.
Rich-Baghuelou has already captained Palace’s Under-23s team side and is fast making a huge impression at Selhurst Park.
“I’ve really loved it there,” he told FTBL.
“It’s a lot different to the non-league where I’ve come from. I’m loving every day there. In the full-time set-up at Palace I’m really improving, just the technical side of the game.
“Now that I’m training every day I’m getting stronger, my decision-making has improved, I’m getting quicker, everything about my game’s improving. It’s a big difference from Welling.
“Everything’s really there for you to become the best player you can become. In non-league you’re more responsible for yourself. At Palace they’re pushing you as well. The set-up is just all there for you to become the best player you can.