Sarll: “One Of The Most Natural Players I've Ever Worked With”
By Kevin Affleck
Darren Sarll believes the club have got a gem of a player in Sonny Blu Lo-Everton after watching the playmaker underscore his huge potential with a corker of a free-kick in the FA Youth Cup tie.
The match with Birmingham City at Wingate & Finchley looked to be heading for extra-time when Lo-Everton, as all good players tend to do, stepped up to settle it with one moment of magic, bending and dipping a free-kick over the wall and into the bottom left-hand corner. It was a goal that prompted gasps around the ground and had Andy Scott, the club's Sporting Director, out of his seat.
“Sonny is a wonderful talent,” said Sarll, the Head of the Academy. “I was lucky to inherit him and I think he's thriving under this regime and all we've got to do is keep challenging him. Everyone was telling me about this player they [Birmingham] had, but my number ten was as good as anything on the field.”
Lo-Everton, who only turned 16 in September, is two-footed, shows great poise, plays with lovely balance and has a terrific eye for a pass. He operated in the pocket behind strikers Dominic Hutchinson and Ryan Cassidy, and everything the team did well in the 1-0 win came through him. The way he won the ball off the giant Josh Andrews, pirouetted and then teed-up Hutchinson for a shooting chance in the first half encapsulated his all-court game.
“He's one of the most natural players I've ever worked with,” said Sarll. “I think he's a ten, but I think he'll go deeper still because he'll have a thirst for influence and want to get involved as he'll get older.
“He's got to go through so many tests yet and the inevitable bump in the road which every player goes through. And he knows he won't get away with an ounce with me. I was furious with something he did in the game and he knows that. He know he needs to continue to work if he is to have this nice feeling all the time. If he is going to play ten, he knows he has to work the hardest. And he worked so hard tonight against their number four [Ryan Stirk] who plays for his country at Under-19 level. He's got a wonderful work ethic.”
Lo-Everton has been a fixture of the Under-18 side who have lost just once in two months and he has even been on the bench twice for the Under-23s, coming on for his debut at Nottingham Forest in August. He would have been involved more had it not been for injury and his education.
“He's got school and Under-23 games are on school days,” said Sarll. “He did the whole of pre-season with the Under-18s and he did not miss a run. I put on an archaic kind of pre-season and he just took it in his stride. He's had a back injury and I think that's because he's grown. He doesn't play small, he plays like a big boy. He put his arms about, he puts his foot in and he shields and rolls players so well.
“And that's what you need. We are talking about having to produce Premier League footballers and you just have to see Javi's players. They are Olympic athletes and international class footballers. That's the level.”