A total of 32 Spaniards are playing their trade in the Premier league this season, but there’s only one Englishman playing theirs in La Liga. His name is Charlie I’Anson. The 20 year old, the Luton born defender made his first appearance for newly promoted La Liga side Elche last month.
So what’s the story behind the ex- Grimsby Town defender? Well, I’Anson left his home nation of England to live in the capital of the Costa del Sol at the age of seven but moved back when he was spotted taking part in a Spanish youth tournament by Championship side Nottingham Forest scouts.
After moving back to England I’Anson was brought into the Grimsby Town youth set up. He made his professional debut aged 17, scoring in a 2-0 win over Mansfield at Field Mill. After spending a season as a full time professional, the talented defender rejected a new contract offer from Grimsby town and left the club. I’Anson then made a risky decision to pack his backs and move to Spain. He signed for Valencia based side Elche after impressing their coaching staff in a trial. He went on to make 31 appearances scoring once in 2012 for the Elche reserve side Elche Illicitano.
When joining the Segunda División champions, I’Anson noticed immediate difference to the style of football in Spain compared to back in England. In a recent interview he said, “In England they look at my height and they don’t think I’m going to be able to play as a centre-half. I’m not the tallest [at the height of 5ft 11in] but it’s not just about height. It’s about timing, positioning, how you jump.” He also commented on the difference in training mentioning “Here you see the ball a bit more and it was more short, sharp, sprint work rather than run, run, run.”
Charlie now wears his favourite number 26 shirt, the number worn by two of his footballing idols John Terry and Lucio, the Brazilian centre defender formally of teams such as Bayern Munich and Inter Milan.
Elche’s first-choice central defenders David Lomban and Alberto Botia both failed to make it at Barcelona when they were youngsters. I’Anson who also did not agree terms with the club involved in the early stages of his footballing career. Now the three of them are the club’s future.
When asked if there are any important dates he’s marked on the calendar: big fixtures against the likes of Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale and Ronaldo or a trip to the magnificent Santiago Bernabeu? He simply replied, “No”. “This season is about learning and next season I want to be first choice. I have a lot of pace. I like to talk a lot on the pitch.”
So what next for the young lad from Luton? “I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground and work extremely hard and train and play where I get told and do as well as can,” Charlie went on to add. “My dream is to play in La Liga or the Premier League but if not where I can get to I will always work for it.”