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From Raynes Park Vale to Wimbledon’s first-team

Paul Osew on making the step-up to league football

29 August 2019

It’s been a breakthrough season for Paul Osew and the 18-year-old left-back is determined to make the most of his big opportunity after a rapid rise.

Paul Osew’s progress to the professional ranks gathered pace when he was spotted while playing in the AFC Wimbledon Foundation’s College Education programme, run in partnership with Southfields Academy, and he was offered a scholarship here at the age of 15. Just like fellow Dons left-back Nesta Guinness-Walker, Paul had to wait patiently for his chance with a professional club to come along.

“I’ve come from a similar background to Nesta, as we’ve both come up from non-league quite late and earned our chance,” Paul said. “I was playing at Raynes Park Vale until a few years ago, and he was playing for Met Police. I feel we’re both making good progress – and we can get better if we keep working hard.

“It’s much more physical and faster when you make the step up, but I don’t find it too different. It brings more pressure playing in front of a crowd, but I feel I play better when more people are watching. Hopefully, I can get more opportunities to show what I can do. It was a great experience to be involved with the lads in pre-season, being a part of it for the trip to Germany. The games out there were against well-supported clubs, so it all helps when you get your chance at first-team level. I looked upon my debut as just another game.”

Paul has made two first-team appearances in 2019/20 so far after catching the eye during Wimbledon’s pre-season programme.

It certainly appears that coach Mark Robinson’s decision to switch Paul from striker to full-back is paying off. Paul feels he’s adapting well to the change, but being involved in first-team matches has shown him what he needs to work on.

“I’m used to playing left-back now, though I’m still learning the position. I started playing there about halfway through my scholarship, so it’s coming up to a year now since I switched from being a striker.

“The players I have come up against work out that I am going to try to beat them on the outside. I’ve got to be able to come up with different strategies to make space down the wing, maybe cutting inside to create opportunities.

“I joined AFC Wimbledon when I was 15. When I started here I was a striker, but Mark Robinson saw something in me that made him believe I could be a good left-back. I’ve tried to do the best I can since and push on in my career. My ambition is to play more first-team games, but also to get as many assists and goals for the team as I can. I want to show that I can help the team so that the gaffer plays me more.”

Paul’s interview featured in our last match day programme and look out this Saturday for an extensive interview with new Dons keeper Nathan Trott.

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