In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. In today’s edition, we take a look at Oxford’s in-demand forward, Kemar Roofe.
After numerous loan spells and the disappointment of not reaching the first team of Premier League side West Brom, Kemar Roofe is starting again and making quite the name for himself at League One outfit Oxford United.
Starting his career at the Baggies, he spent numerous seasons in their youth set-up, climbing the ranks alongside various loan spells. After signing his first professional contract in 2012, he joined Northampton Town on a month-long loan deal. In his brief spell at the Sixfields Stadium, he made his first-team debut in a 3-3 draw against Burton Albion, going on to play a further five matches.
He bagged his first career goal a year later during his second loan move away from West Brom, at Cheltenham Town, scoring in draw against Hartlepool. However, he would go on to have an unproductive loan period at Colchester United, before returning to his parent club without a realistic chance of breaking into the first team.
Just as his career was starting to dwindle, Oxford offered Roofe another crack at the Football League, and although he failed to find the back of the net in his first five fixtures for the club, he eventually made an impression.
After earning a year-long extension to an initial loan deal, he ended the season with a flurry of goals, scoring in his side’s final three matches of season. His impressive return of six goals from sixteen eventually saw the Englishman find a new permanent home at Oxford, managed by Michael Appleton, who had coached him at youth level.
During his first full season with the U’s, he has started to come of age. Comfortable on either wing, as the main striker or just behind a frontman, his bags of pace have helped him score more than a goal every two games – fifteen in twenty-nine appearances – and he has attracted a number of interested suitors from both the Premier League and Championship.
His biggest career moment to date came when he took a leading role in Oxford’s FA Cup scalp of Premier League side Swansea, scoring a brace in the 3-2 victory earlier this month.
What the experts say:
West Brom under-21 manager, James Shan: “There’s absolutely no reason why Kemar can’t play in the Premier League.”
Oxford United manager, Michael Appleton: “I keep telling Kemar and others they have bags of potential. The thing I like about him is he is comfortable in a number of positions, you can play him as the main striker or off the striker.”
Where does the future lie?
Although watchful eyes from Premier League and Championship clubs are keeping the Englishman in their sights, Oxford hope that first-team football and the chance to develop will be enough to keep Roofe from joining sides such as Newcastle and Wolves, who both are both reportedly interested in the striker.
U’s boss Appleton recently spoke on the speculation, advising the forward to remain at the club for the foreseeable future.
“He’s an Oxford United player and he’s happy to be one. He’s enjoying his football and improving day by day. I say it to all the players, and I say it from personal experience, the grass is not always greener,” he said.
“If you are at a club where you are winning and enjoying your football, there is no need to jump from A to C.”
Aspiring to replicate the rise to fame of Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy, Roofe is hoping for another crack at the top league in England.
“I just never got the chance at West Brom. I believe I should have had that chance. I did all I could,”
“Jamie Vardy started lower and he got the scoring record in the Premier League. It can be done given time – and a chance. Everybody has the ambition to play in the Premier League and I’m no different.”
Daniel Roberts, @djroberts22