Wealdstone striker Hughes on being released by Leyton Orient and his rise in men’s football

Action from Leyton Orient v Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup, Picture: Simon O'Connor

Action from Leyton Orient v Maldon & Tiptree in the FA Cup, Picture: Simon O'Connor - Credit: Archant

Striker Charlee Hughes was dropped from Leyton Orient academy, gave up, but has found his way slowly back up the ladder – most recently being signed by National League side Wealdstone.

The 24-year-old believes men’s football made him the player he is and was probably more suited to that path rather than staying in academy football.

The former Maldon & Tiptree front man says he has learnt so much rising up through the non-league ranks, saying: “It’s probably played one of the biggest parts in my progression, men’s football in itself is a very different game to the academy level football, especially as a young player.

“You learn a lot quicker the value of winning, you learn a lot quicker the value of different aspects that need to be played in a team, rather than just getting the ball down and playing.

“I coach and teach a lot of younger children and football teams, I try to give them that side of the men’s football. Playing good football and looking pretty is great, some times you need to realise we need to win this game and this is how we’re going to do it.

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“That was the main experience I’ve learnt from the lower leagues and joining men’s football early on. Getting that job done isn’t always going to look pretty.

“I definitely feel there is pros and cons for both sides, but I seemed to flourish a lot more coming from men’s football, than I did going through an academy.

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“I’m glad I got into men’s football a lot earlier than I probably would’ve done had I stayed in academy football and played under-21s and under-23s.”

Hughes did admit being released by the O’s made him lose hope but his dad inspired him to start playing again.

“I got released when I was 16 then gave up football for a little while and then my dad, who was manager at Old Southendians, just said come over with me and just play.

“I went over as an 18-year-old, then ended up at Burnham Ramblers, Bowers & Pitsea, Brentwood, then Maldon & Tiptree. I’ve been playing men’s football now for almost four years. From the academy I lost a bit of confidence, gave up, but then eventually found my way back through men’s football.

“My dad still coaches for Leyton Orient and it was more bittersweet, being a part of the FA Cup rather than it being Leyton Orient. Although it did help with my nerves as I’d been there before.”

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