BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Ethan Chislett is not going to forget his AFC Wimbledon league debut in a hurry – taking just 20 seconds to score in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Northampton Town.
The 21-year-old signed in August after leaving Aldershot Town.
And it took him next to no time at all to make an early impression at League One level.
“I couldn’t have dreamed for it to go better – my first touch in the league and my first league goal,” said Chislett, who was on the books of Southampton as a kid. “Hopefully that moment stays with me forever.”
The only shame for Chislett is that his family were not at the PTS Academy Stadium to witness it.
The Covid-19 pandemic means that the campaign has kicked off behind closed doors.
“It’s a very weird situation right now,” said the Dons’ recent recruit. “My mum and dad were watching on a tablet which can stream the games and they were delighted – they also saw the goal flash up on Sky Sports. I got a lot of messages from friends and family, which is very nice.
“My dad tries to get to every game. Even when I was at Aldershot he had to travel quite far and ended up going to the majority. He’s very supportive that way.
“There is a hole missing in the current scenario. You want fans and want noise to get that extra buzz when you score a goal. But with Covid and everything that has gone on I’m just delighted this [his goal] happened how it did.”
South African-born Chislett was let go by Southampton at the age of 14. He credits time spent in Spain at an academy, linked to Catalonian club CF Reddis, for giving him a fresh outlook.
Before that he had been part of Met Police’s youth team.
“I’ve been on trial to so many clubs – especially after my release by Southampton,” he said. “It’s the same old story – you’re too small and not physically developed enough, that came up a lot. It was a battle against that.
“I went out to Spain for two years, from about 18 to 20, and that kind of refreshed me and gave me a new mindset on football.
“It was probably the biggest turning point in my football career. It helped me view football in a different light.
“I believe if I’d stayed in the non-league system I would’ve been in and out of squads – I don’t think I’d have been viewed as a particularly special player.
“The Spanish style suits me down to the ground – non-league is very physical and quite intense at times.
“For me to go out to Spain and have a change of culture took me out of my comfort zone. That was the biggest thing. I took a risk and gambled when I don’t think many people would have.
“It was a fresh start in a football sense and I learned a lot from it.”
Chislett had been set to sign for Gimnas La Pobla but the dismissal of the manager scrapped those plans.
Instead he returned to England and played first-team football for Met Police – helping them reach the first round of the FA Cup – before the Shots swooped in June 2019.
Chislett scored nine goals for Aldershot in the National League last season and Wimbledon made him their fifth signing of the summer.
They have already shown they will take a chance on players from the lower leagues with Nesta Guinness-Walker, who also featured for Met Police, getting snapped up in May 2019.
“I heard they were interested in January,” said Chislett. “But nothing was done, for one reason or another.
“Once I heard of the interest from Wimbledon in the summer it was only 48 hours before I signed.
“I’m relatively local, I live in Guildford, and the move was a no-brainer. It is a massive club with a huge history.
“Glyn [Hodges, manager] sold me the future – if that makes sense. I want to be part of something special for a special club. Upon signing I was able to go to Plough Lane and it looks amazing. I can’t even begin to think what it will look like when it is finally finished.
“It’s a very, very young squad here which I believe is a massive positive, if used in the right way. With youth you get hunger and players who want to achieve and succeed – as opposed to players who have been there and done that.
“In terms of attitude, since I’ve been here, it has been top. I believe we can achieve a lot, whether in the league or through the cups.
“Hopefully we’re nowhere near where we were last season. I believe we can start looking up the table.”
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