Charlton Athletic have snapped up former Crystal Palace prospect Mandela Egbo on a free transfer.
The 24-year-old right-footer, who can play at full-back or wing-back – had spent the end of last season at Swindon Town. He has agreed a two-year contract with the Addicks also holding an option for an extra 12 months.
So what do with know about Charlton’s second signing of the summer transfer window.
SOUTH LONDON ROOTS
Brent-born Egbo, an Arsenal fan, had spells playing locally for Hackney JFC and Afewee Urban before joining Crystal Palace’s academy.
His decision to leave the Eagles, a month before he turned 18, was an acrimonious one. Palace had identified the defender as a standout prospect who could follow the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Wilfried Zaha in stepping up to the first-team fold.
Instead he joined Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany, the compensation around £200,000.
“I’m at an age when people go away to uni. I’ve done the same thing. I’ve moved away to learn my craft, just as a student goes away to university. I’d read that the chances of coming through a club into the senior team were higher here than anywhere else in Europe’s major leagues,” Egbo told The Guardian in 2015.
HOW DID THAT MOVE WORK OUT?
He made just one first-team appearance for Die Fohlen, in July 2019 at Hamburger SV as a 68th-minute sub. He scored three goals and got five assists in 84 matches for Gladbach’s reserves.
Egbo joined Darmstadt, in Germany’s second tier, in May 2019 when his contract expired. Seven months later and he was on the move again, to New York Red Bulls for an undisclosed fee. Egbo featured 11 times for the MLS outfit but was loaned to their reserve side in the 2021 season.
“Regrettably I couldn’t help the way I would have loved to on the pitch this year, but I’m proud of you guys for getting through a difficult season, making the play-offs once again, and I wish we could have gone all the way,” he said in an Instagram post confirming his Red Bulls departure in November 2021. “Looking forward to what the future holds. Still in the trenches regardless. Slow grind.”
SWINDON TOWN LIFELINE
The right-sided defender started training with Town in January – re-united with his former Palace youth team coach Ben Garner – with arguably only injuries to Brandon Cooper and Joe Tomlinson opening up a spot for Egbo to sign a short-term deal in March.
He produced three assists in 11 appearances and was only on the losing side once in Swindon’s nine-game run until the end of the regulation season – winning seven matches and drawing one. He started both legs of Swindon’s League Two play-off semi-final against Port Vale.
Egbo was part of the England squad which won the European U17 Championship in 2014. He also represented the Three Lions at U16 and U18 level. Egbo was an unused substitute in the 2014 final against Netherlands but he did come on – and get booked – in the 2-0 semi-final victory over Portugal in Malta. Also made two appearances in the group stage of the tournament, coming on in a 4-1 win over Turkey and then starting in a 2-0 loss to Netherlands.
REACTION TO THE DEAL
Mandela Egbo: “Being in the building and looking around the stadium, you just see the stature of the club so I’m over the moon. I can’t wait to get going on the pitch. It feels good to know that your ambitions lie in the same place as the club’s. We’re all looking to go forward and there’s no looking back now. It’s fresh, it’s revitalised, it’s new and hopefully we can all hit the ground running and just go in that one direction, which is forwards and upwards.”
Ben Garner: “I’ve known Mandela since he was 11 years old from academy football. He came and played for me at Swindon at the end of last season and did really well. He’s experienced for his age and he’s got the attributes that we want in that position. He’s a fantastic character with a great personality, very driven, a great athlete and a really talented footballer.”
Thomas Sandgaard: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to bring Mandela to Charlton. He’s a fantastic talent, who is a good defender and also very dangerous going forwards, which suits what we are trying to build. He’s worked with Ben Garner before and Ben speaks very positively about him, so we’re excited to welcome him to The Valley.”
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