There was a little piece of history last night when Slavi Spasov stepped up to score from the spot in United’s 3-0 win over Fulham.
The 16-year-old youth team forward became the youngest ever scorer for Oxford United- record holder Graham Atkinson was younger when he scored on his debut for Headington United.
When iFollow caught up with him after the game the obvious question was whether it had all sunk in?
“Not really! I mean it’s every kid’s dream, especially when you are only 16 years of age. And to cap it all off with a goal is even better. I want to thank Jon Obika and Tony McMahon for the goal as well because they let me take the penalty. For Jon to do that when he hasn’t got off the mark yet this season himself is such a kind and generous gesture and I really appreciate it.”
You’d never have known from the confident way he stepped up, but Slavi isn’t actually the penalty taker for the under 18s!
“Not really! I have taken some and missed some! I‘m not the regular taker, but I have been practising them recently. The youth team keepers know my routine and this time I just had a feeling the keeper was going to go bottom right so I went bottom left and it paid off.”
Slavi, whose family are from Bulgaria, has enjoyed a rapid rise since joining the U’s’ under 16 team but told us there wasn't really time to get nervous about being involved with the first team for the first time.
“I trained with the first team yesterday and then was told I was involved around four o’clock. Then when I was coming on I was kind of nervous and had only just gone to warm up; it was still very early in the game, but Shaun Derry called me over and I realised it was time to go on. There wasn’t really time to get nervous.”
Which meant there were two 16-year-olds on the pitch for the U’s with Slavi joining Fabio Lopes up front.
“We’ve been together since last year and have played together for the under 16s, 18s and 23s now” Slavi said. “It’s always good to have someone by your side. Dan Harris, the Academy Manager, is always telling us to go play in the first team with your mates so it was great to both be on the pitch. But a lot of people have helped us along the way. All of this is down to them: the Gaffer and the coaches for having faith in me, Leon and Chris and all the academy coaches, and everyone who provided me with this opportunity.
“It’s great to have done it but it’s back with the youth team tomorrow- we have college- and I know I just have to keep working hard and wait for another opportunity. The good thing is I’m not on duty tonight so I don’t need to sweep out the dressing rooms!”
See the full interview plus the thoughts of Sam Smith and Karl Robinson in iFollow right now.
Oxford United's youngest ever players
|Graham Atkinson||Chelmsford City||2nd September 1959||16 yrs 108 days|
|Jason Seacole||Mansfield Town||7th September 1976||16 yrs 149 days|
|Slavi Spasov||Fulham U21||4th September 2018||16 yrs 226 days|
|Fabio Lopes||Coventry City||14th August 2018||16 yrs 250 days|
|Declan Benjamin||Ebbsfleet United||17th November 2007||16 yrs 286 days|
|Ben Weedon||Rushden & Diamonds||28th January 2006||16 yrs 304 days|
|Billy Jeffrey||Fulham||26th January 1973||16 yrs 336 days|
|Aaron Woodley||Crawley Town||29th September 2009||16 yrs 352 days