“Sometimes in life you don’t have a choice and obstacles are put in your way, what makes you stronger is how you bounce back from things like this.”
Karnell Chambers has had to deal with a lot in his young career so far. The 23-year-old was handed a five month ban from the FA in September for breaching their rules on gambling, after betting on 317 football matches since 2015.
The news resulted in the winger’s contract being terminated by Chippenham Town – his club at the time and a team he had represented on 86 occasions, netting an impressive 22 goals in the process.
“I have been out of football for the time being,” Chambers explains, “just taking time away from the sport and reflecting on my personal life. Finding out who you are as a person first will help you as an athlete, and become a better person.”
The former Chippenham star is enduring a tough spell, unlike many of his contemporise, but it certainly wasn’t always this way for a boy who simply fell in love with the beautiful game.
“When I was about nine or ten [years old], football chose me and since then I’ve never looked back.
“I started playing for my local team, Hucclecote, in Gloucestershire,” Chambers reminisces, “after playing for a few years it started to get very serious and competitive. I enjoyed playing there for many years and was able to get a professional contract for Cheltenham Town when I was 16.
“I then went on to play in Sweden [for Syrianska FC] and travel the world, it’s been amazing so far and my love for the game continues.”
A skilful winger, Chambers can daze defenders at ease with his footwork. The 23-year-old strikes genuine fear into full-backs throughout non-league football, “I’d say I’m most similar to Jadon Sancho probably, just because of his style of play.
“I don’t like saying players I’m similar to, I want to be my own player. I never really had idols because I’ve never wanted to be like anyone else. I’ve had mentors and tutors as they’re in the place I want to be, so I want to learn from them and become my own person within the game.”
Chambers has accumulated a spectacular return of 42 goals in a blossoming career that seems to have not reached it’s peak yet. The 23-year-old has certainly had his fair share of moments to look back on.
“So many memories are made in football and that’s the amazing thing about the sport. I’ve had many like playing in the FA Cup, playing at Wembley and scoring two goals, playing at the King Power Stadium against Leicester City in the FA Youth Cup.”
In recent years, there has been a surge of young British footballers relocating their talents overseas and testing themselves in numerous European leagues.
“My favourite moment so far would be making my debut when I was eighteen in Sweden for the professional club [Syrianska] in front of the fans,” Chambers recalls. “It was such a big thing mentally to move away and embrace such a big change.”
Amidst the euphoric highs of success, lows ultimately accompany them – and his ban has proven to be a treacherous time for the winger.
“Going through an FA ban is very difficult because all I want to do is play football,” the 23-year-old explains, “not being able to train and play for five months was so hard because there’s nothing like match fitness – keeping fit by myself is very difficult.”
With an enormous wealth of experience – on and off the pitch – in such a short amount of time, Chambers has the ability to help future generations breaking through into the professional game.
“My advice to a young player would be to really decide if you want to become a professional, because it’s a tough road and it’s not easy. It’s not for the people that are part time and don’t care.
“If you have some natural ability, go it and don’t look back.”