AFC WimbledonSport

AFC Wimbledon’s exciting teenage prospect not settling for impressive start to the 2023-24 season


Isaac Ogundere is vowing not to let his focus or energy levels drop after cementing his place in Johnnie Jackson’s AFC Wimbledon starting line-up since the start of the 2023-24 season.

The 20-year-old academy graduate defender has played the full 90 minutes in every League Two and EFL Cup outing.

He has helped the Dons keep three clean sheets already, with only Gillingham and Barrow (both on five) conceding fewer goals than the six Wimbledon have let in.

Ogundere captained the Dons at youth level and was promoted to the first team at the start of last season.

“You gain more confidence when you start to play more games,” Ogundere told the South London Press.

“In my first couple of games, I was putting in performances, but not at a level that I thought I was capable of. Now I feel as though I have been progressing through the games and I’m trying to improve every game.

“I really learned last season not to get too comfortable. When you play a lot of games as a young lad, it’s easy to get on a high horse, but you need to keep level-headed.

“If you get too high, football can change so quickly, so if things start to go against you, it can take a real toll on you. I take every step as it goes. It’s good that I’m playing, but it’s only been eight games in the league. I want to carry it on.

“Eight games in League Two won’t get you anywhere. I don’t want to be comfortable with the position I’m in.

“I was playing in stints of five games at a time last season – I would not have as good a game or give the gaffer a reason to drop me.

“I want to play every single minute of every game, so I have to try to stay at a top level. I try to stay focused every day and treat every game like it is my last.”

Ogundere made his senior debut under Jackson against Gillingham in the EFL Cup in August 2022 and has gone on over the course of last season and this campaign to notch up 33 appearances and is now a mainstay in the side.

“I feel like I have come on a lot,” said Ogundere, who has had loan spells at Dartford, Leatherhead and Potters Bar, when asked how his game has progressed in Wimbledon’s first team.

“Especially attacking-wise. I have always been a real defender since I was a youngster, having played centre-back at U18 level.

“But Terry [Skiverton, Dons assistant manager] says: ‘As a defender, you’re there to defend. It’s your pride and joy keeping the ball out of the net’.

“You become more of a man learning to defend in League Two.

“It’s the perfect league to start in because you get the nitty-gritty work done and you get the elbows in here and there. You get the aggressive stuff in early as a young lad.

“It’s good to adapt to that. It’s been challenging but a good learning experience.”

When fellow academy graduate right-back Huseyin Biler returns from a hamstring injury which has kept him out since the start of the season, he will battle it out alongside Ogundere for a spot in the starting line-up.

Biler, 21, was first choice for periods of last season but suffered a string of injuries to derail his campaign.

“Me and Hus are like best mates,” said Ogundere. “We travel in most of the time together and we’re constantly speaking.

“Hus is a great player and we have always been in the same position – we’re used to pushing each other for the place.

“Hus was unreal last year and also keeping Chris Gunter out of the side – there was nothing you could do.

“I was over the moon for him. It’s about who is playing better. We both want each other to play well.

“It’s healthy competition and we’re always pushing one another in training.”

Ogundere penned a new two-year deal – with an option for a further 12 months – over the summer.

“I was over the moon to get it over and done with,” said the full-back.

“Wimbledon has been a club very close to my heart. I have loved every single second I have been here since the start from my time at the academy. It’s a fan-owned club – the fans, players and staff are all so close.

“I wanted to get the deal over the line and spend another two to three years here at this great club.

“Last season, we were weak towards the end and let in a lot of goals – it didn’t represent a Wimbledon side.

“The team that the coaching staff have put together now is starting to come along and look really strong.

“We’re backing ourselves and our ability – it’s a positive for this year.”


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