Sports transfers are a gamble. A life-changing gamble.
For Deji Davies, former football player and currently JPMorgan’s head of par & stressed loan trading (and a director of Brentford Football Club), his life-changing gamble played out pretty poorly for one career, and pretty well for another.
Speaking on the HPScast, hosted by HPS MD Colbert Cannon, Davies explained how one bad transfer changed the trajectory of his life – what he calls his “sliding doors” moment.
“I was playing for Wembley at the time, my first semi pro club,” Davies explained. “I was the top scorer at Christmas. I had a number of scouts come down and give me their card before the game and say, “I’m here to look at you,” and was surprised by the attention. “I had never thought about this as a career or thought “this is possible”. And then I started to think – maybe football is possible.”
Things changed when he moved to Slough FC – a move that proved absolutely disastrous. From the league’s top scorer, he scored no goals in eight games. He named a “bad culture” among the reasons the spell went poorly and was eventually let go. Re-joining Wembley, he got back into his goal-scoring ways.
“That season, because I had that period at Slough not scoring, I ended up second top scorer in the whole division,” Davies explained. “The guy that finished top scorer, he had a trial at Chelsea, then a trial at Watford [both top-flight clubs]. He was signed by Watford.” The ship had sailed on football, he thought. “That was kind of my chance,” Davies said.
He doesn’t regret moving. “It reminded me why I actually play football, which is the joy of it,” Davies said. “Whereas, back then, I was more seduced by a bigger club offering more to me. I really learnt a lot from that. I took that as a message that it’s not meant to be.”
After the ship sailed, Davies “started to focus more on my financial career, which I really enjoy as well.” He joined Rothschild, where was for four years – and moved to JPMorgan during the tumultuous year that was 2007, where he’s been ever since.
His background is fascinating – from “inner city London” (Camden), he played football “at school mainly, then did a bunch of soccer schools outside of school – with Arsenal and Tottenham – and also with my local council.”
Despite getting into Oxford’s blues (top) football team, “I was already thinking about my later career. I already accepted that to be a professional footballer – at the top level – I probably wasn’t quite good enough. So, I was already thinking about business.”
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