Tyrick Mitchell interview: Crystal Palace full-back on growing up, Brentford axe and life under Patrick Vieira

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 (Sebastian Frej/CPFC)
(Sebastian Frej/CPFC)

Tyrick Mitchell is living out his childhood dream by playing for Crystal Palace in the Premier League, but his journey to the top has been anything but easy.

Growing up in Harrow, his dad was in and out of prison. Mitchell lived with his mum, who relied on benefits to help support the family, and his two older sisters.

Life wasn’t straightforward but Mitchell would not change the path he has trodden.

“That whole scenario built me into a man so much quicker,” says the 22-year-old, who has established himself as a regular for Palace and is thriving at left-back under Patrick Vieira.

“Sometimes when you have two parents, or when you are given everything you want, you are kind of shielded from the real world.

“Now when I enter the real world, and you don’t get everything you want or you have to work even harder, I am able to do that with ease. It is no problem.

“It hasn’t been the easiest of routes, but that’s what makes everything more special and humbling to me.”

Although there were some tough times growing up, Mitchell is still able to look back on them fondly as they created a close bond between himself, his mum and his sisters.

“Every Christmas they would make sure that I at least got one good gift,” he says. “One gift would be something that I really wanted, because obviously growing up you write a Christmas list with expensive things. You want all of them.

“I am not going to say I never had new boots or anything like that, but I know at certain times like Christmas or my birthday, people around me, my support group, would join together and try and get me what I actually wanted.”

 (Sebastian Frej/CPFC)
(Sebastian Frej/CPFC)

One of those people was Abdi Farah, who took Mitchell under his wing as a coach at his first club AFC Wembley.

Farah, who now works as Mitchell’s agent, helped the defender develop his game and ensured he stayed focused on his ultimate goal of making it as a professional.

Mitchell joined Brentford at Under-12 level in 2012 but in 2016, when they shut their academy, was left looking for a new club.

“That was all I knew growing up,” he says. “It was like a family so when it closed, suddenly I was just a school pupil and not someone who was at an academy.

“That was one of the hardest parts but I never try to get ahead of myself. A lot of people like my friends helped me to move on and recognise that there was going to be another opportunity and to make sure I was ready to take it.”

Sure enough, Mitchell did get a second chance as Palace moved to sign him. There were plenty of clubs interested, but the Eagles’ clear plan persuaded the youngster to join them.

“I prefer someone to tell me how it is - tell me that I have got to get past this player,” Mitchell says. “I feel like I’m a good judge of character and sometimes when people speak you feel their energy and believe what they are saying.

“That was the kind of vibe that I got with [Palace academy director] Gary [Issot] and we are here today.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Since joining Palace two days after they lost the FA Cup Final in 2016, Mitchell has not looked back. He broke into the team under Roy Hodgson at the end of the 2019-20 season and is continuing to flourish under the guidance of Vieira.

“It’s been like a whirlwind,” he says. “To see a manager of his stature as a player come in has inspired me to work hard and learn a lot from him.

“Growing up there were a lot of full-backs I looked up to - Philip Lahm, Ashley Cole, [Branislav] Ivanovic, a lot of people, but especially Ashley Cole and how aggressive he was in a one-vs-one. He was like, ‘You are not passing’. So he was a massive inspiration for my game.

“Some people get thrills off nutmegging people or beating someone, some people get thrills off scoring.

“But my one is I like it when I step on the pitch to see I had that opponent. That person couldn’t get past me or had to change wings, or the manager had to substitute that person.”

Mitchell’s rise has been swift and, after seeing Palace open their new £20million academy last week, he believes plenty will follow his lead.

“It’s an amazing facility,” he says. “It is one of the best ones I have seen in England, let alone London. I won’t be surprised if the whole of the south play for Palace.”

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