Gray lining up for Luton Town before the 2012 Conference Premier play-off Final
|Full name||Andre Anthony Gray|
|Date of birth||26 June 1991|
|Place of birth||Wolverhampton, England|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|2009–2010||→ AFC Telford United (loan)||6||(1)|
|2010||→ Hinckley United (loan)||5||(0)|
|2012||→ Luton Town (loan)||9||(5)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 12:15 28 April 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Andre Anthony Gray (born 26 June 1991) is an English professional footballer who plays for Brentford as a striker. A product of the Shrewsbury Town youth system, Gray came to prominence after scoring 57 goals in 111 appearances in a two-season spell with Luton Town. He represented England C at international level.
Gray began his career in the academy at hometown club Wolverhampton Wanderers, but was released at age 13. Gray joined the youth setup at League Two side Shrewsbury Town in 2004, signing his first professional one-year contract prior to the start of the 2009–10 season. Awarded the number 20 shirt, he made his debut on the opening day of the season, coming on as an 89th minute substitute for Nathan Elder in the Shrews' 3–1 win over Burton Albion. An injury crisis saw Gray make four further cameos, with what would be his final appearance for the club coming as a 57th minute replacement for Kris Bright in a 2–0 Football League Trophy second round defeat to Accrington Stanley on 20 October. He spent periods of the 2009–10 season away on loan, but competition for places meant that Gray was relegated to the reserve team substitutes' bench. Gray was released by the Shrews on 14 May 2010, having made just five appearances for the club. Looking back on his time at Shrewsbury, Gray said "I was at the stage in my life where I thought everything was set for me. I didn’t really care about playing in Shrewsbury’s reserves, which it shouldn’t have been".
AFC Telford United
Gray joined Conference North side AFC Telford United on a one-month loan on 26 November 2009. Gray's good form meant that his loan was extended for a second month. He scored his first goal for the club with a late winner against local rivals Stafford Rangers on Boxing Day. Competition for places meant that Gray gradually lost his place in the team and he returned to Shrewsbury Town on 5 February 2010. Gray played six times for the Bucks, scoring once.
Hinckley United (loan and permanent transfer)
On 5 March 2010, Gray joined Conference North side Hinckley United on an emergency one-month loan. He made five appearances and scored no goals for the club, before returning to Shrewsbury Town.
Gray returned to De Montfort Park in June 2010 and signed a permanent one-year contract with the club. He scored his first goal for the Knitters with a late equaliser in a 2–2 draw with Harrogate Town on 4 September. After two further goals that month in defeats to Guiseley and Eastwood Town, Gray's goalscoring form dried up. His form returned in late March 2011, when he scored a brace in a 4–0 drubbing of Redditch United. He scored four goals in a 7–2 thrashing of Solihull Moors on 23 April and ended the 2010–11 season having made 35 appearances and scored 14 goals.
Gray remained with Hinckley for the 2011–12 season and showed fine form, with his goalscoring exploits firing the Knitters to an FA Cup first round proper match versus Conference Premier side Tamworth on 12 November 2011. He scored the opening goal in the 2–2 draw, but couldn't find the net in the replay, which was lost 1–0. Gray also helped the Knitters to the second round proper of the FA Trophy, scoring a late winner against Conference Premier side Wrexham side in the first round, though he was unable to find the net against Luton Town in the following round, to whom the Knitters crashed out 3–0 in a replay. His exploits garnered him attention from Championship clubs. Gray made 45 appearances and scored 23 goals during the 2011–12 season. Gray departed Hinckley in the summer of 2012, having made 85 appearances and scored 37 goals across his two spells with the club. Gray looked back on his years playing part-time with the Knitters as the point at which he regained his focus, saying "as long as I still had a job and was getting paid, it was OK. Until I started playing and realised that full-time football was the only thing I wanted to do, it kicked me into gear. Being bored all day, waiting to go training made me really want it".
Luton Town (loan and permanent transfer)
On 22 March 2012, Gray signed for Conference Premier side Luton Town on loan until the end of the 2011–12 season with a view to a permanent move, having impressed the club's backroom staff with his performances against the club in the FA Trophy. Going straight into the starting lineup, he scored on his debut in a 1–1 draw against Grimsby Town on 24 March and hit a goal in his of his next games against York City, Braintree Town and Hayes & Yeading United. This meant that Gray became the only player in Luton Town history to have scored in each of his first four games for the club. He scored his fifth goal in a 2–0 win against champions Fleetwood Town in the last game of the season to ensure that Luton secured a fifth place finish in the league and the last available remaining playoff spot. Gray scored the opening goal in the playoff semi-final first leg at home against Wrexham, which Luton won 3–2 on aggregate to set up a final against York City at Wembley Stadium. Luton lost the game 2–1, despite Gray scoring the opening goal after just 71 seconds. He scored seven goals in 12 games during his loan spell.
The day after the playoff final defeat, Gray signed a two-year professional contract with Luton for a fee of £30,000. Beginning the 2012–13 season in a substitute role, he scored his first goal of the campaign against Macclesfield Town on 1 September 2012 and broke back into the starting lineup. Gray's performance in a 2–0 FA Cup fourth qualifying round victory over Cambridge United in late October saw him win the FA Cup Player of the Round award. On 1 December, he helped the Hatters into the third round proper of the FA Cup, scoring the opener in a 2–1 second round victory over Dorchester Town. Luton were drawn against Gray's hometown club Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round and he played 89 minutes of the 1–0 giant killing on 5 January 2014. On 14 January, following a run of ten games in which he scored eight goals (attracting the interest of Championship side Millwall), Gray signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract, which would keep him at Kenilworth Road until June 2015. He played 75 minutes of Luton's shock 1–0 FA Cup fourth round giant killing of Norwich City on 26 January, but the Hatters' run was stopped by Millwall in the fifth round, who ran out 3–0 victors. Gray rounded out the 2012–13 season with a run of six goals in six games, which included two braces in the Hatters' final two games of the season. Gray made 54 appearances and scored 20 goals in a season which saw Luton finish two places outside the playoffs.
Gray was primarily used as an impact substitute during the beginning of the 2013–14 season, with new signing Mark Cullen preferred in a starting role by Luton manager John Still. Early in the campaign he was the subject of transfer interest from League One sides Peterborough United and Port Vale, though manager John Still was quick to point out that Luton had received no official enquiries. Gray scored his first goal of the season on 24 September 2013, the club's eleventh league game, in a 4–0 victory over Woking. He then went on a goalscoring run and reclaimed his place in the team, scoring six goals in five games, culminating with a hattrick in a 4–1 victory over Hyde on 12 October. A run of 11 goals in 10 games from November through to January helped the Hatters to the top of the Conference Premier table. In January 2014, Gray was the subject of transfer interest from Premier League side Arsenal. Gray confirmed he had no intention of leaving the club midway through the season, stating that it would be "stupid" to with the club having a realistic chance of promotion back to the Football League and he instructed his agent to reject any approaches. After scoring a further seven goals in four games in February, Gray was named as the Conference Premier Player of the Month. Further transfer interest surfaced in April, with Championship sides Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers reported to be tracking Gray. In total, Gray scored 30 goals in 45 games during the 2013–14 season, and winning the first silverware of his career, as Luton were promoted back to the Football League as Conference Premier champions. He was recognised by the club for his performances by being awarded the Young Player of the Year award. Gray was the leading scorer in the Conference Premier, for which he won the league's Golden Boot award and he was also named in the Conference Premier Team of the Season. Gray was the subject of reported transfer interest from League One neighbours Milton Keynes Dons in May 2014, but the Dons baulked at his £300,000 price tag. Gray departed the Hatters in late June 2014, having made 111 appearances and scored 57 goals during his time at Kenilworth Road.
On 27 June 2014, Gray signed a three-year deal at Championship side Brentford for an undisclosed fee and was given the number 19 shirt. After joining, he said "the fact that the manager wanted me was a big part in selling me on Brentford. They had a vision of how they wanted me to play and also they have a vision for this club. As soon as Brentford came along I knew it was a good opportunity for me". Manager Mark Warburton said "Andre has tremendous pace, good movement and a clear eye for goal and we are delighted to have secured him for the start of pre-season". Gray scored in friendlies versus Barnet and Nice in July 2014. Gray made his competitive debut for the club on the opening day of the 2014–15 season against Charlton Athletic, making the first Football League start of his career. He lasted 67 minutes of the 1–1 draw before being replaced by fellow new signing Nick Proschwitz. Gray scored his first competitive goal for the club in the following game, netting in an incredible 6–6 League Cup first round shootout win over Dagenham & Redbridge, after coming on as a 64th minute substitute for Nick Proschwitz. Gray scored the first league goal of his career on the stroke of half time in a 2–0 win over Rotherham United on 30 August. He scored again in the following game, converting Jake Bidwell's cross to score Brentford's second in a 3-2 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. In October, Gray revealed that he felt he had surpassed his pre-season expectations of his ability to handle the jump from the Conference Premier to the Championship in the early stages of the 2014/15 season.
Gray's goalscoring record for Luton in the final months of the 2011–12 season raised the attention of the England C team and he was named in the squad for an International Challenge Trophy match against Russia U23 in June 2012. He made his debut in a 4–0 defeat, playing the full 90 minutes. He was later called into the squad to face Belgium U23 in September 2012. He came on as a half time substitute for Stephen Brogan scored his first international goal, with the winner in a 2–1 victory. The win saw England C qualify for the semi-final of the International Challenge Trophy. He played in the semi-final on 5 February 2013 against Turkey A2, which England C lost 1–0. Gray captained England C in the second half of a 6–1 friendly win over Bermuda on 5 June 2013, scoring the team's sixth goal. He appeared again in a 2–2 friendly draw with Czech Republic U21 in November 2013, starting the match and lasting 71 minutes before being replaced by Dan Fitchett. Gray played in a prestigious friendly versus Jordan U23 at King Abdullah Stadium in Amman on 4 March 2014. Gray played the first half of the 1–0 victory, before being replaced again by Dan Fitchett. Gray's return to the Football League in June 2014 meant that he was no longer eligible for England C. He received six caps and scored two goals.
Gray was introduced to football by his grandfather and suffered heartbreak at age 13 when his grandfather died. Acting as a mentor for his younger brother Cody, Gray said "I know what my grandad wants me to do and that’s look after my family. It’s driving me to work harder".
- As of match played 12 August 2014.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Shrewsbury Town||2009–10||League Two||4||0||0||0||0||0||1[a]||0||5||0|
|AFC Telford United (loan)||2009–10||Conference North||6||1||0||0||—||0||0||6||1|
|Hinckley United (loan)||2009–10||Conference North||5||0||0||0||—||0||0||5||0|
|Hinckley United||2010–11||Conference North||31||13||2||1||—||2[b]||0||35||14|
|Luton Town (loan)||2011–12||Conference Premier||9||5||0||0||—||3[c]||2||12||7|
|Luton Town||2012–13||Conference Premier||44||17||7||2||—||3[b]||1||54||20|
- FA Cup Player of the Round: 2012–13 (Fourth Qualifying Round)
- Conference Premier Player of the Month: February 2014
- Conference Premier Golden Boot: 2013–14
- Conference Premier Team of the Season: 2013–14
- Luton Town Young Player of the Year: 2013–14
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- Osborne, Chris. "BBC Sport – Luton 0–3 Millwall". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
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- "BBC Sport – Luton Town 4–1 Hyde". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
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- "Match report and photos: England C 2, Czech Repbulic U21 2". Nuneaton News. 2013-11-20. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
- "Paul Fairclough's England C won historic encounter in Jordan thanks to Luke Berry's strike – England". The FA. 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
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