By Will Unwin
Gothenburg is known as “Little London” which makes it the perfect habitat for former Crystal Palace winger Kieron Cadogan.
The 25-year-old Wandsworth-born footballer now finds himself plying his trade in the Sweden’s Superettan league for Gothenburg’s second club GAIS.
Cadogan counts Edgar Davids as a close friend and his move to Sweden came about thanks to the input of Henrik Larsson, so he’s definitely a man who knows how to get ahead in the game.
After leaving Barnet in 2014, Cadogan was looking for a new club and felt it was time to test foreign waters after finding the rough and tumble of the English lower leagues not suited to his skilful style.
“My agent knew Henrik Larsson, who was a manager at the time and he said he had a friend who needed some players.
“Coming through at Crystal Palace, I turned my nose up at the prospect of playing abroad until reality hit and I needed a change and I thought it would be a good opportunity.
“At the time I was asked to come their window was closing; I was asked to come on the Friday and the window closed on Sunday so it was a bit of a rushed decision.
“Originally I signed for three months, until the end of the season to see if I liked them and they liked me and it went well so I decided to stay longer.”
It didn’t take Cadogan too long to settle into life at the club and away from it in Gothenburg, as the culture isn’t vastly different from what he was used to at home.
“They say that Gothenburg is Little London so the lifestyle isn’t too different. On the pitch, I was always used to pressing quite high, whereas here it’s quite tactical and the tempo is a little slower but that’s the only real difference so it wasn’t too hard to adapt.
“Being away from family was hard, especially being from London; London people don’t like to move about, so that was pretty hard for me to be away from home for a long period."
Cadogan’s spell at Barnet was an eye-opener for the winger who came to the realisation that getting kicked off the park might not be the best for his career and feels the change in style that Sweden has to offer was something he needed at a crossroads in his career.
“I’ve done well since I’ve been here so I think the style has complimented me. Here I have a bit more time on the ball to do what I want to do and stuff so maybe it’s a bit safer to be here.
“At Barnet the football was very aggressive, rock 'n’ roll football, kicking back and forth - your neck was hurting at the end of the game and it wasn’t really suited to me. There were games where I hadn’t really touched the ball and that was a bit frustrating, which made me think I wanted to move to Europe to get more of the ball.”
At Barnet, Cadogan played under former Palace team-mate Davids, who was a huge fan of what the winger could offer to the side, even if the lower leagues were not the best place for a skill merchant.
“The move to Barnet came from being at Palace with Edgar Davids where he came to play for while. We got on really well - he appreciated my style. He took a job at Barnet and asked me if he wanted to come – I was without a club at the time so it was a bit of a no-brainer.
“It was a massive compliment and we get on really well and still stay in contact now. He’s a good friend to have.”
There’s no doubting that the change of scenery has suited Cadogan who has become a key member of the GAIS team. He’s a regular scorer, netting eight in 40 appearances for the club from midfield.
He' not only a key influence on the pitch, he’s also made his presence known off it by getting the club to sign his cousin, former Coventry and Oxford United defender Liam Davis, who recently became the fourth Englishman on the club’s books, a sign of the growing English football diaspora.
“I brought my cousin, who played at Championship level and League One. He’d just left Yeovil Town so I told him about GAIS and he liked what he heard so came over and he’s enjoying it. We also have James Sinclair and Renny Smith, who is on loan from Burnley. There seems to be more people moving out now. It’s a different experience, too, whether it’s for life or football.
“England has a lot of foreigners there so it’s harder to get a game there now so it’s like the roles are reversing so people all over the place. I don’t think it’s a bad thing as it means you have different mentalities and playing styles all over the place now, so it can’t be a bad thing.”
There have been some impressive highs and lows in Cadogan’s short career, having scored on his debut for Crystal Palace but then being made redundant when Aldershot were in administration in 2013, something that can give a player plenty of perspective on what the life and footballer are all about.
Cadogan is contracted until the end of the season in Gothenburg and is open to the chance to spread his wings further should the opportunity arise.
For now Cadogan is taking advantage of his natural talents to explore what the football has to offer outside of England.
“I eventually want to come back to England and play at a good level: Championship or League One, but at the moment I just want to explore Europe and see how that turns out for me.
“I’ve got to see what options at the end of the year and make a decision but it’s a case of taking things step-by-step.”
Cadogan has certainly made his mark in Little London but his ambitions are far from small and he now has his eyes firmly fixed on the bigger picture.