CHARLTON legend Kevin Lisbie will be a proud man when his son Kyrell lines up at The Valley for Cray Valley Paper Mills on Sunday.
The winger, 19, has netted seven goals so far in the FA Cup as the Isthmian League South East club battled through EIGHT matches to set up this first-round clash.
And the tiny eighth-tier side — three miles down the road from their illustrious neighbours — was one of his dad’s last clubs before he hung up his boots.
Kevin is best known for his 11 years as a pro at Charlton — which included eight in the Premier League. In total, he scored 19 goals in 176 appearances for the Addicks between 1996 and 2007 before going on to play for Colchester, Millwall, Ipswich, Leyton Orient and Barnet among others.
He told SunSport: “I’m so proud of the journey Kyrell has been on at Cray. His performances and goals have played a major part in getting them this fantastic tie against Charlton.”
And Kevin, 45, who often does media work for the Addicks, will put family first in terms of his loyalties.
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He said: “I’ll be supporting my son. Hopefully he can perform and score — and the result will sort itself out between two clubs I love.”
Kyrell is too young to remember his dad playing in the top flight during Charlton’s golden years under Alan Curbishley but has watched videos — especially the famous hat-trick he scored in a 3-2 win against Liverpool in 2003.
And when the draw was made, the teen, who is playing in his first FA Cup campaign, was ecstatic.
He told me: “I was at church at the time. I called my dad just before and said, ‘Imagine Charlton away.’
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“When it came to realisation, I was screaming, shouting and excited. My emotions were so high because to play at The Valley, where my dad had so many wonderful years, is a dream come true.”
Kyrell has played football for as long as he can remember with his twin brother Kyreece, who is currently on the books at Brentford.
He played youth football for Leyton Orient and West Ham as well as for college and Sunday league teams before joining Watford — but suffered heartache when the Hornets released him at the end of his scholarship.
But rather than feeling sorry for himself, the teen decided to go down the non-league route, playing for Woodford Town and Welling before pitching up at Cray in the summer.
Kevin wound down his career in non-league, plying his trade for Barnet, Whitehawk, Cray Valley Paper Mills and VCD Athletic.
And the ex-Charlton ace believes young players rejected by pro clubs can still realise their football dreams by developing as a semi-pro. In fact, playing at that level can be better than at an academy.
Kevin said: “I’m a firm believer that as soon as you can start playing men’s football the better it is for your development.
“All the sessions you have had as a kid and managers telling you to do certain things, it makes sense once you play against men. You realise you must be quick on the ball because you’re going to get tackled quickly and you’re up against experienced people who have been in positions you’ve been in and understand the game.”
Kyreece also played for Cray before being picked up by Brentford and their dad added: “Just to get that experience is so vital and it’s helped them both mature in terms of understanding the game. Football intelligence is more important than just talent.
“Also it keeps you grounded. When I was at Cray, the boys would turn up in their work clothes on a Tuesday night covered in paint or whatever.
When I was at Cray, boys would turn up in their work clothes on a Tuesday night covered in paint. It makes you love and appreciate the game."
“It makes you love and appreciate the game. It’s important Kyrell understands that in order to be a professional footballer you must love the game.”
His son added: “When you’re in academies, it’s friendlies every week here in non-league you’re fighting for three points every game. You want to get promoted, you want to do well.
“Fans are a massive part in non-league too — if you don’t perform, you get stick. And there’s pressure to keep your shirt so the environment is totally different. I’m so pleased to be experiencing it.”
Kyrell and Kyreece are huge on social medial. Between the pair, they have more than a MILLION followers on TikTok. They use the platform not just to highlight their highs but also their lows.
Rejection is a huge thing in football and many budding players do not make it to the top of the game.
And the Cray striker said: “The main goal is to inspire kids in my position, older and younger.
“Football isn’t what it always seems. There are lots of rejections. I, in particular, try to show the hard side of football. The work that goes into being a footballer.
“Me and my brother are very close. We do everything together and have become popular on the app. But we just hope to help others understand the highs and lows of trying to make it.”
Almost 70 people have bought tickets to watch Kyrell play with all his family and many friends going to the Valley tonight.
And the youngster believes a fairytale win is possible against the League One club.
He said: “I’ve not watched a lot of Charlton but there’s a lot of quality in League One. If you can keep them quiet for the first 15 to 20 minutes then you never know what can happen.
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“But it would be great to give the fans something to cheer about and score at The Valley. That would be the finest moment of my career.”
And how would that make his dad feel?
He said: “It would be my favourite-ever moment watching football.”
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