BY EDMUND BRACK
AFC Wimbledon youngster Aron Sasu has explained why he ditched analysing one of world football’s biggest names to instead study Tammy Abraham’s game.
The Croydon-born forward signed his first professional deal with the Dons over the summer and has become a regular fixture in their matchday squad this season.
Sasu is a similar build and height as Camberwell-born Abraham, who came through the ranks at Chelsea and has several England caps under his belt. He moved to Serie A side Roma in 2021.
“Growing up as a youngster, I relentlessly watched Neymar,” Sasu told the South London Press.
“He’s the one player I watched all the time, but someone whose game is nothing like mine. As I became older and I wanted to watch players for my development, I started looking at Tammy Abraham for a bit.
“I saw similarities. His back-to-goal play is a strength for him. It is an area that I needed to work on.
“I studied him in a lot of detail from U15s to U18s.”
Sasu, 18, was promoted to the Dons first team this summer and has already featured eight times in League Two, recently making back-to-back starts in wins over Tranmere and Harrogate.
“It’s going really well at the moment,” said Sasu. “I’m playing a lot more than I might have expected going into the first season.
“I have been given a good opportunity and I’m doing alright.
“I had the goal of breaking in and trying to establish myself in the first team. A loan was a potential pathway I could have taken earlier in the season but I wanted to get into the squad and get a place for myself in the first team.
“Growing up my only goal was to be a professional footballer and achieving that milestone was a big thing for me.
“I don’t look too far ahead with things I do in football – it can change in such a short time.
“You could be nowhere near the squad one week, then a couple of things happen and you’re playing. I just want to try and make an impact whenever I get minutes.
“There is a lot more I want to achieve now I’m here.”
Sasu joined Wimbledon in 2015 as a 10-year-old.
“I was always one of the taller players who, physically, was above their age group,” he added.
“A lot of the lads around me were technically better than me, but I was able to use my strength and speed to dominate games.
“I always had a challenge ahead of me in the academy – I was never allowed to feel comfortable with where I was at.
“If I was performing well, I was moved up for a bigger challenge. That’s been throughout, and now I’m with the first team – there has always been something for me to try and attack. There has always been a view that there are opportunities for lads who break through to get first-team opportunities.
“You always see a new face from the academy in the first team – you always have a reference point to judge yourself on. It gives you the confidence, as a youngster, that there is an opportunity at this club to go to the top.”
Sasu’s first start this season came in the 2-1 EFL Cup win against Coventry, playing wide on the left as the Dons knocked out the Championship side, who had come within a penalty shootout of making the Premier League only a few months earlier.
He followed that up by coming on as a late substitute in the second-round tie at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea knocked the Dons out of the competition following a late Enzo Fernandez strike.
“That was a big occasion,” said Sasu, who replaced Josh Neufville for the final 12 minutes. “I was coming on against players who I have watched on TV for ages.
“I went into pre-season trying to get into a League Two squad, and then I was coming up against some of the biggest names in football.
“It was an eye-opener to see the levels that you aspire to get to. It gives you more incentive. Playing in front of 40,000 people was such a great feeling – it gives you that desire to do that on a week in, week out, basis.”
Sasu has been called up to training camps with Norway’s U16 team but is also eligible to represent Ghana and England going forward.
He is the only player from the three who signed professional deals over the summer still in Johnnie Jackson’s first-team squad, with Morgan Williams and Paris Lock both heading out on loan.
“It gives me that confidence that the gaffer sees something in me,” said Sasu. “If I’m doing well, he’s going to trust me.
“If I do the right things – train well and make an impact – he will give me a chance. That’s all I can ask for as a player. I want to get my stats up and get my first goal and a few assists. I want to solidify myself in the team.
“I have had a few starts and have been in and out of it, but I want to really push on. I have come close on a few times [to getting my first goal]. It’s coming soon. I’m working towards it.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD AND PA
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