THE BIG INTERVIEW: Kodi Lyons-Foster

Kodi Lyons-Foster joined Bristol City in 2016, failing to make a single appearance before going out on loan to Guernsey. The England u-16 representative has also featured in the academies of Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa. 

Lyons-Foster joined Aldershot Town in 2017 but left the club on the expiration of his contract in January 2018. He joined Whitehawk after a loan period at The Shots before joining newly-promoted Braintree Town last summer. Since then, he has reunited with Danny Searle and returned to Aldershot Town. Lyons-Foster discusses Searle, his time at Aldershot Town, why he returned to The Shots, famous teammates and some interesting hobbies too.

From the beginning, when did football start for you?

“I was initially playing for a local team from the age of seven or eight called Finchley Park then I signed to a Sunday League team.

“From there, I joined another Sunday League team called Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace). Since then, I got scouted and I signed for Spurs (Tottenham Hotspur) when I was 12. I was there from the age of 12-16 and I was at England u16 level as well.

“I went from Spurs to Aston Villa on a three-year contract and then I did a season at Bristol City and then I signed for Aldershot Town. I went to Whitehawk, finishing the season permanently there and then last season I was at Braintree before returning to Aldershot.”

Playing at the academies of Tottenham and Aston Villa, what was that like for you?

“It was a great experience. The facilities at Spurs were incredible and Aston Villa had great facilities as well.

“Being around Premier League players improves your maturity at that sort of level. You train with them and it was such an amazing experience.

“Coming up, you see what it’s like at the top level and it was a great culture. Everything about it was great.”

Is there anyone from those academies that fans would recognise now?

“From my time at Spurs, there was Harry Winks who is still there and Josh Onomah who plays for Fulham now. I think they were the only two if I can remember. I loved playing with them and you could see that they were talented.

“At Aston Villa, there was Kienan Davis who is at the first team there now, Andre Green who is still there and Jack Grealish who is their star player now.

“Yeah, I played with a lot of good players who have had success at their clubs.”

What happened at England u16 level, what were your main achievements there?

“I won the Victory Shield with them. That tournament was a huge achievement for that England team.

“I remember us playing out of our skins to win that trophy. We fought for it and it was such a proud moment to represent my country at international level. It’s always a proud moment to be in the Three Lions set-up.”

Is there anyone from that England u16 team that fans would recognise now?

“Yeah, there was Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Freddie Woodman who is the goalkeeper for Swansea City.

“I played with a very talented group of players. That team was special and there were a lot of successful age groups at England.

“There are players who have played in the top-flight and Serie A. There was such much success in that team and I really enjoyed playing with them. Look at their careers now, I mean who wouldn’t?

You then played for Whitehawk and Braintree. I believe you played under the current Aldershot Town manager Danny Searle at Braintree. Talk to me about how he has influenced your career so far?

“Last year at Braintree, I think there was a period of time where there was a lot of off-field matters going on with the club. It reached the stage where I wasn’t enjoying my time at Braintree anymore. I was uncertain whether the off-field matters would clash with the on-field matters.

“Danny Searle was a big reason why I stayed at Braintree during such a tough time. Last year, I developed a good relationship with Danny and he was as open with me as he was with the players.

“He was so honest and I really respected that so I tried to be really honest with him as well. Towards the end of the season, I was really enjoying it and he helped me work on certain aspects of my game that weren’t the best.

“The best thing about the gaffer is that he’s got the balance. There’s not a lot of managers that are capable of that trait. He knows when to be intense and when to be laid-back. Off the pitch, he’s such a normal person but on the pitch, he will always demand intensity and that’s what I’ve always liked about him.

“He’s such a top manager. He’s approachable whenever you have an issue and he will take the time out of his day to talk to you.”

What were the biggest reasons why you returned to Aldershot Town?

“Initially, my experience at Aldershot Town was cut short because of the lack of games I had. I felt like I always had a point to prove. In the back of my mind, I never like to leave any pieces of paper unturned and I felt like Aldershot was a page that I didn’t get to see properly.

“I’d never shown the club, players and fans that I could do it there so I wanted to prove people wrong. the decision to come back was a no-brainer and I knew a couple of players at the club already.

“It’s a great club, great fans and a great set-up. I’m really delighted to be back, proving myself again and playing regular football. It’s a club I really enjoy playing for. I’ve been to a lot of stadiums but I always enjoyed playing at the EBB Stadium.

“I played against Aldershot last year for Braintree and I loved the pitch and the fans. Overall, I just really like the club.”

Are there any hobbies or interests outside of Aldershot Town that fans wouldn’t know about you?

“I’m a bit of a film fanatic so I love watching films. I watch them quite regularly. I try and get out and watch one once a week or once every two weeks.

“I like to take my dog out for a walk as well. It’s refreshing to escape from football every once in a while but I also like to have a kick-about too.”

From your time as a defender, who would you say has been the hardest attacker you’ve had to defend against in your career or the National League?

“In my career, I’d have to say training against Christian Benteke was really tough when I trained with the Aston Villa first-team.

“In the National League, I think it would have to be Kyle Wootton from Notts County because he was quite quick the other day when we played against them. He gave me a tough time.

“Although, he does come close with the Bromley forward Michael Cheek. He was a real tough opponent to come against so it is definitely between Cheek and Wootton.”