Time at Club: 18 months
It is said that in life good things come to those who wait. If that is indeed correct then it is excellent news for Fulham.
In recent seasons the Club has cast its scouting net far and wide in the quest to unearth some of footballs finest young talents. And when exciting Finnish prospect Jesse Joronen arrived at Motspur Park for a trial some 18 months ago, it is fair to say our Academy believed it had found a gem.
For the talented goalkeeper impressed from the off with a command and governance of his box belying his tender years. His attitude and willingness to listen stood him out too, as did his natural ability to stop the ball.
The subsequent contract offer came as little surprise, however, the youngsters decision to wait before signing did.
At that moment in time, I just didnt feel ready, reflects Jesse. I was very young and, for me, it was important that I continued my education back home. Of course, it was a decision that I may have lived to regret but fortunately the Club were willing to allow me to continue my studies before I came here on a full-time basis.
So I signed the summer before last and completed my course at Finlands leading Sports Academy, where I learned a lot. Over the past year, I came over as much as my time allowed, playing some games and taking part in training sessions.
It was a big decision to put the move on hold and Im sure a lot of boys in my position would have taken the opportunity straight away. But had I left home at that point, I dont think I would be as comfortable in my surroundings as I am now.
Born and raised in the small town of Simpele located near the Russian border, Joronen spent the year leading up to the summer just gone in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
I come from a really small town, he explains. So to go from there, to a city as big and as busy as London would have been a big step. So my time in Helsinki was extremely beneficial – it prepared me for life in England.
I lived on my own and I had to grow up very quickly, but in a less pressurised environment. As a result I felt more independent, which has allowed me to settle here and just concentrate on my football. It proved to be a very good decision for me.
His maturity has been noted by Academy staff and such was his immediate impact, Joronen has already spent time with Billy McKinlays Development Squad featuring in a game against Tottenham.
The last line of defence for what is an exciting crop of Academy players, the 17-year-old is now the number one for Gary Brazils U18s and already aware of the progress he has made in a relatively short space of time.
I know that I havent been at Fulham for long, but I honestly believe that I have improved as a player, he says with assurance. The coaches are fantastic and I am really enjoying working with Vic Bettinelli (Academy Goalkeeping Coach).
I think there is a lot of potential in the U18 team and although we have made a good start to the season, I think we all know that we can perhaps do a little better. We have played some very good football and shown that on our day we are a very difficult side to beat.
We do have quite a young team, one that is still getting used to the way each other plays, but I feel that we can have a very good season and I am very much looking forward to playing in the FA Youth Cup. I know that the team did very well in reaching the Quarter-Final last season, but it would be nice to go even further this year.
Courted by Liverpool not too long ago, and a regular youth international for his country, Joronen is without doubt a very bright prospect for the future. And having worked closely with Fulhams original Finnish shot-stopper, Antti Niemi, in the past, the youngster can be forgiven for aiming high.
I know Antti, and have worked with him on a number of occasions, says Jesse. Hes someone that I consider to be a role model and I would love to have a career like he had. He was a great keeper and Finlands number one for many years. He had a lot of success in the Premier League and of course I would like to follow in his footsteps.
He talked very positively about Fulham and and had many good things to say about the way that it was run and for its goalkeeping too. It is clear that he enjoyed his time here as a player.
It is true that Liverpool offered me a contract too, but I believe there is a greater chance to progress here. Even at Academy level, big clubs like Liverpool have a lot of players and changes taking place.
If you are not performing they can easily replace you. Here there is more of a sense that you have time to develop. At this age players develop at different rates and its important not to have that pressure.
The Club have shown that they are committed to the progress of young goalkeepers, with Neil Etheridge making the First Team bench in recent weeks. David Stockdale has made a big impression this season and the younger players like myself look at that as a sign of what we can achieve.
I waited a little while to join Fulham, but Im here now and enjoying the challenge. I have a lot of hard work ahead, but I want to make a difference here.
Up Close with Jesse Joronen:
– My main strength is my shot-stopping.
– Although my weakness is probably my distribution.
– The biggest influence on my career has been my dad Timo.
– My favourite Fulham player is Brede Hangeland
– Growing up my footballing idols were Zinedine Zidane and Steven Gerrard.
– The best moment of my career so far is playing for Fulhams Development Squad.
– Three words that best describe me are motivated, calm and positive.
Youth Academy and Pro Football Scouting