VFTN were lucky enough to catch up with the rapid Cody Drameh last week and suffice to say, he’s every bit as impressive and enthusiastic off the pitch as he is on it.
It’s hard to believe that you had only played three senior games before joining Cardiff. How have you found playing in the Championship and the relentless schedule that comes with it? I imagine it must take some getting used to, both physically and mentally.
Yeah, definitely. As you said there, It’s just relentless. The games just come thick and fast and you don’t really get chance to process the result because you’ve always get another game in a few days. I’ve definitely had to adapt to it and get my body used to it. It’s demanding.
You have such a high-intensity style of play. Is it hard to maintain that over two games a week, every week? You must be shattered after games. It’s exhausting just watching you!
Haha! Sometimes it is, but I always try to give 100% for the team and the supporters because they’re brilliant. If I can contribute and keep my energy levels high, I will continue to do so. I feed off the fans as well and they really help me. I’ve come to Cardiff to play games, so if they keep coming, I’m more than happy to keep playing them. I don’t see it as a chore. It’s exciting.
Despite everything we’ve already mentioned and having only fairly recently turned 20, you’ve been very consistent for Cardiff. There has been the odd game, like the Bristol derby, where you’ve had to do more defending than attacking, but you seem to have taken it all in your stride.
I think that’s down to the team and the manager. They’re really helped me adapt and they’re very supportive of me. Obviously, you’re going to have ups and downs, but you just have to keep a balance. Not get too high or too low and try to keep your mind clear so you can perform consistently.
The game I found the most difficult was the Barnsley game, on a Tuesday night after having played on the weekend. It was a proper scrappy game of football, with two teams battling it out near the relegation zone. There wasn’t too much football being played and it was pretty much end to end. I found that game particularly difficult.
You were the standout performer in a great team performance against Peterborough, including an amazing assist for Jordan Hugill. Is that the best you’ve ever played to date?
I would say so, but I feel like I still have a lot more to offer and give. I think I could have got another assist for Jordan in that game and maybe could have scored. That was my best game for Cardiff, but I’ve still got a lot to show and improve. I think I need to find more consistency in my attacking play, whether that be crossing, beating my man or even getting a couple of goals because I haven’t got a goal for Cardiff yet, so I’ll definitely be looking to improve on the attacking side and Cardiff are helping me to do that.
To take it back to the very beginning, at what age did you start playing football and when were you spotted by Fulham?
I started playing football when I was like three or four-years-old and I was originally spotted by Chelsea playing for a local side in South London. I played for Chelsea for two years between eight and 10, then I left because it didn’t work out. I wasn’t really enjoying my football or the environment there. It was all very new for me and it was a difficult experience, so I went back to my local side and then got spotted by Fulham at about 11 or 12. I was at Fulham through to 18 or 19 and in 2020 I moved to Leeds.
How did you find uprooting from London at such a young age to head up north to Leeds?
I lived on my own in London when I was playing for Fulham, so for me, it was just moving further away from my family. I think I took to it like a duck to water and it was very simple for me because I’ve always been very football driven. Wherever I go, as long as I’m playing football, I’m happy.
I imagine one of the appealing factors would have been the opportunity to learn from Marcelo Bielsa, who seems like a remarkable guy. I can understand why you would have appealed to him, as you’re tailor-made for his intense high press. How did you find working with him and what did you learn?
It was very unique, how we train and the man-to-man system we play, so there was an adaptation period, but once I understood what they wanted from me, I improved tactically, technically and physically. It was fascinating to work with him and it was a really unique experience.
It was reported that you had a difference of opinions when you left for Cardiff, with Bielsa saying that he felt you had “abandoned” Leeds when they were short of numbers. That must have put you in a difficult position.
He said he wanted me to stay, but I wanted to go because I needed more game time than they were offering. For me it was a straightforward situation because I believe in myself and my ability.
I know you’ve said in the past that Steve Morison was calling your agent every day and made you feel wanted at Cardiff, who were struggling at the time. The team’s fortunes have transformed since the turn of the year and you’re one of the players that have helped turn things around. Have you seen a difference in confidence and performances in the time you’ve been there?
Definitely. I was speaking to Joe Ralls about it today. I remember after the Bristol City game that we were all in the changing room, trying to figure out what had gone wrong and what needed to change. We had a great result at the weekend against QPR and you can see the difference in confidence and standards. There’s a different buzz around the place that we take into games now. However the game is going, we believe in ourselves to try and get the best result possible.
You’re currently playing right wing back. Is that your favoured position and have you also played right back, right wing or on the left before?
I’ve played right back and right centre back in a back three. I’ve also played left back and don’t really mind what position I play to be fair.
You made your England Under-21 debut in November and lined up alongside Tommy Doyle, who has also had an amazing impact since joining. Is he someone you have played with through the age ranges and did you know anyone else at Cardiff before joining?
Our paths have crossed a few times. I’ve played a few games with Tommy at Under-20 level as well, so I knew him before coming to Cardiff. I also knew Ibrahim Bakare from the Under-23’s from my South London days. Other than that, it’s a completely new environment for me.
What are your hopes for the future? You have a new manager to impress at Leeds and I understand you also qualify to represent Gambia. Have you decided who you are hoping to play for at international level?
I can actually represent a few. I can play for England, Gambia, Jamaica and Senegal! Obviously, there are a lot of quality right backs in England, so I’m not really too sure yet. My full focus is currently on the Championship and ending the season well. Then in the summer, we can discuss everything, but for now, it’s all about improving and playing for Cardiff.
I think I speak for all Cardiff fans when I say thank you for your efforts and you would be very welcome if you fancied returning for another year next season!
I’m glad to hear that and I appreciate it. Thank you very much.