Miles Leaburn is emerging as Charlton’s new rising star


As the clock ticked down at the Wham Stadium in Lancashire, Charlton Athletic boss Ben Garner decided to make his first change of the match.

Saturday saw the Addicks kick-off their League One campaign with a trip to Accrington Stanley, the first of many away days. Scott Fraser had given them the lead in the first half, but Sean McConville equalised for the hosts in the 69th minute.

Moments later, Garner called upon one of his substitutes on the bench to go out and make a difference for the south-east Londoners. Diallang Jaiyesimi came off, Miles Leaburn was brought on, and the latter’s surname is one that is already stapled in Charlton history.

Carl Leaburn, Miles’ father, made his first appearance for the club in 1987, and spent 11 years at The Valley. The striker scored 66 goals in over 300 games for the Addicks and was named as their Player of the Year in 1994.

After a spell of over a decade at the club, he signed for Wimbledon in the Premier League in 1998 and then QPR in 2001, before ending his football career at Grays Athletic. He was a popular player at Charlton, with The Valley faithful chanting ‘Leaburn!’ whenever he featured for the side.

Now, 17 years after he retired, his son Miles may be ready to continue his legacy.

Deep into added time at the end of the second half, the 18-year-old was on hand to score the first professional goal of his career. New signing Jack Payne was able to cross the ball into the six-yard box, and Leaburn rose highest to head the ball into the back of the net.

The goal sent the Charlton fans into a wild frenzy; jubilant celebrations filled the away end as they thought they had sneaked a late winner on their travels. However, Accrington dealt them a killer blow just two minutes later when Korede Adedoyin equalised to snatch a point.

Although the result may be disappointing for the Addicks, considering how close they were to claiming victory, Leaburn’s goal is a huge bonus to take away from the match.

Early in July, it was revealed that he had signed his first professional contract at the club. He first joined the academy at U16 level, having previously had a spell at Premier League giants Chelsea. The striker was also part of Charlton’s U18 side who won the Professional Development League 2 South title last season.

Leaburn, whose mother Tracey is the club’s player liaison officer, was soon included in the senior squad for pre-season this summer, and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact on the side. He featured in five of their six games during pre-season, netting three goals in total.

Come Saturday afternoon he was awarded his first ever professional appearance and judging by the impact he made just 23 minutes into his debut, there is no doubt that he will go on to feature more for the club.

Garner spoke on his influence after the draw at Accrington and how the Leaburn family must have felt after the youngster scored his goal:

“It’s a lovely story and I’m sure his family are very proud today, but for me I just judge him on his talent and his ability. He’s not here through any divine right, he’s like any other player in the squad.

“I’m not bothered whether they’re 18 or 32. If they’ve got the right attitude and the ability, I pick the team off of that.”

Charlton’s campaign may not have started in the way that they wanted, but there is a lot of optimism surrounding one of their academy graduates.

A home fixture against recently relegated Derby County now awaits them on Saturday afternoon and if Leaburn can contribute to the team once again, then the confidence and quality that he possesses could bode well for the Addicks as the season progresses.

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