The young central defender joined the North East club from Cleveland Juniors after they scouted him at the age of nine, and has progressed through the youth systems to now find himself on the fringes of the promotion-chasing first team at the Riverside.
Described as a centre back that loves defending, he isn’t afraid of a challenge and shows a ruthless streak on the field. In addition to his defending attributes, his height is a perfect target for set piece takers, bringing a strong attacking threat to the team.
Last season was an incredibly impressive campaign for the defender in the youth system at Boro, as he was an important part of both the Under-18 and Under-21 squads that won both their respective leagues, whilst also helping the club qualify for the UEFA Youth League.
However, he went one step further in the early stages of the 2015-16 season, making his senior debut on the opening day of the season against Preston. After an notable pre-season, forming a strong partnership with Daniel Ayala and impressing boss Aitor Karanka, he was thrust into the side to replace injured first-team regular Ben Gibson for the trip to Deepdale. At just seventeen years of age, the surprise inclusion produced an excellent and mature performance that seasoned pros would have been proud of. With positional awareness, smart tackling and strong heading, Fry certainly announced himself as a player to watch in the coming years.
Although he has only gone on to make a further two appearances this season, one in the Capital One Cup tie against Oldham and, most recently, in Monday night’s goalless draw away to Leeds United, the youngster is sure to have a bright future at Middlesbrough over the coming years. In September, he was rewarded for his impressive development, signing a five-year contract at the club. After signing, Karanka praised the startlet, saying: “I’m really pleased as he deserves this contract and our confidence.”
Internationally, the English national has represented his country at under-17, 18 and 19 levels, making a grand total of 15 appearances. His finest moment in the white of England came last May, where he was apart of the Young Lions side that lifted the European Under-17 Championship trophy in Malta.
What the experts say:
Middlesbrough boss, Aitor Karanka: “He could be an amazing player because he has everything.”
Middlesbrough goalkeeper, Dimi Konstantopoulos: “Dael doesn’t feel pressure. He is like a 40 year old in an 18 year old’s body. He needs to carry on with his down-to-earth approach and he will go a long way if he keeps that up.”
Middlesbrough midfielder, Adam Clayton: “Dael has got all the attributes to be a really good player.”
Where does the future lie?
Although the defender has been in-and-around the first team picture this term, his main goals for the upcoming seasons will be to continue learning and impressing when further first team chances arise.
At Middlesbrough, Fry is fortunate enough to be surrounded with a number of experienced pros to seek advice and learn from. One of those, Jonathan Woodgate, is certainly someone he would love to emulate the career of. With both Middlesbrough-born defenders, they certainly have a lot in common.
Discussing the role the former Real Madrid, Tottenham and England star is having on his development, Fry said: “He’s a great role model. He has played all over the world at such a high level.
“He’s a big influence on me and at the club and really good for the young lads. I ask him questions every day after training and games and he always stops to give advice.”
After an impressive couple of campaigns for the youngster, he also understands that his future aspirations will rely on hard work to give himself the best possible chance of succeeding.
“Now I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Fry. “I feel like I have improved this year, especially my communication skills on the pitch. I’ve tried to become a better organiser and play like a captain.”