"I have special memories of Chesterfield but leaving hurt me," says former Spireites striker Ricky German
Former Chesterfield academy product Ricky German says he has many “special memories” of his time at the Spireites but being told he could leave “hurt” him.
Signing for the Blues as a 16-year-old, the striker made easy work of life in the academy; 30 goals and one year later, he earned a short but sweet first team debut against Northampton in September 2016.
“I remember coming on for Kristian Dennis late on,” he said. “We won 3-1 and the fans were standing up and applauding us.
“I’d only been on the pitch for four minutes, but I felt like a hero. It was unreal.”
Then came a two-and-a-half-year deal, but the club was soon spiralling out of the Football League as the management changed hands three times in as many years.
With Town relegated to the National League in 2018, Martin Allen arrived in hope of steering the ship to safety by bringing in his own cohort, something which appeared not to work in German’s favour.
“I was called into a meeting with the gaffer,” he told the DT, “he was honest and told me that he was looking to sign big, tall strikers.
“It hurt me, really. I thought: ‘how could you tell me I’m not in your plans when you’ve never seen me play?’
“I loved my time at Chesterfield and I have so many special memories from there, but I knew I needed to take a step back and start again.”
The 21-year-old penned a deal with Crawley Town in January 2019, having blitzed the Southern League in a short spell at Hendon.
He bagged 21 goals in just 28 games for the Greens, becoming one of non-league’s most prolific scorers before making his EFL return.
The young forward has nothing but thanks for Crawley boss John Yems.
“The gaffer showed faith in me and he likes to give young players a chance,” he said.
“I just want to go out there and repay him, and I think I will.”
After a loan spell at the National League South’s Hemel Hempstead, German earned a place in the first team, eventually netting his first ever Football League goal in a 3-0 win over Oldham.
“It was the best feeling of my life,” he explained, revelling in the fact that his father was present to witness the moment.
“To score in front of my dad was even better. It was just perfect that he got to see me score my first goal for Crawley.
“It should have come earlier, though,” he admitted, “against Stevenage and Exeter I definitely should have scored, but I’ve got it now and no one can take that away from me.”
“It felt amazing to sign for Crawley, it was something of a relief to be honest. All that hard work paid off, and I was excited to get started.
“I’d been waiting for so long to finally score for Crawley and it kept playing over and over again in my mind how I missed those chances in previous games.
“The longer you wait, the harder it gets to score that first goal, so you can probably imagine how much I wanted it.”
Looking back on his journey, the striker said he is eternally thankful for the support he has received.
“You’ve got to listen to the people around you,” he said. “Your managers, your sports scientists, your physios, the experienced players; everyone.
“I’m really grateful to the manager for giving me my chance as a young player and I can’t wait to get back out there and carry on proving myself.”