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Luke Freeman

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Luke Freeman
LukeFreemanStevenage.png
Freeman playing for Stevenage in 2013
Personal information
Full name Luke Anthony Freeman[1]
Date of birth (1992-03-22) 22 March 1992 (age 27)
Place of birth Dartford, England[2]
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[3]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Queens Park Rangers
Number 7
Youth career
2001–2003 Charlton Athletic
2003–2008 Gillingham
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2008 Gillingham 1 (0)
2008–2012 Arsenal 0 (0)
2010Yeovil Town (loan) 13 (2)
2011–2012Stevenage (loan) 7 (1)
2012–2014 Stevenage 103 (14)
2014–2017 Bristol City 105 (10)
2017– Queens Park Rangers 103 (14)
National team
2008 England U16 4 (1)
2008–2009 England U17 15 (4)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:22, 19 April 2019 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 14:08, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Luke Anthony Freeman (born 22 March 1992) is an English professional footballer who plays for Championship club Queens Park Rangers.

Freeman started his career at Charlton Athletic, before joining Gillingham at the age of 11. He made his first-team debut for Gillingham at the age of 15, becoming the youngest ever player to appear in the FA Cup. In January 2008, Freeman signed for Arsenal, featuring regularly for the club's under-18 and reserve teams. Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Freeman signed for Yeovil Town on loan until December 2010. He returned to his parent club when his loan ended, and signed a new contract in April 2011. He was loaned out once again in November 2011, this time to League One team Stevenage on a one-and-a-half month loan deal. Freeman impressed during his time at Stevenage, and signed for the club on a permanent basis in January 2012. He joined Bristol City in 2014 and helped the club to Football League Trophy and League One titles during his first season with the team. He spent two-and-a-half years at Bristol City before joining Queens Park Rangers in January 2017.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Freeman began his career at Charlton Athletic, joining the club's academy in 2001 after being scouted playing Sunday league youth football.[4] He spent two years at Charlton before being released "for being too small".[4] Following his release from Charlton, Freeman joined Gillingham at the age of 11.[5] He made his first-team debut for Gillingham in an FA Cup tie against Barnet on 10 November 2007, aged 15 years and 233 days, replacing Efe Sodje as an 80th-minute substitute.[6] His debut set two records; he simultaneously became Gillingham's youngest first team player in team history,[5] and the youngest player ever to appear in the FA Cup, breaking records previously held by Billy Hughes and Lee Holmes respectively.[7] Three days after his FA Cup appearance, Freeman appeared in Gillingham's 4–0 home victory against Dagenham & Redbridge in the Football League Trophy, coming on as a substitute in the 74th minute.[8] He made his first league appearance on 24 November 2007, becoming Gillingham's youngest player in a league match, as an 82nd-minute substitute as Gillingham secured a 2–1 win over Hartlepool United.[9] After making three appearances for Gillingham, Freeman spent time on trial at Arsenal, Newcastle United and West Ham United in December 2007, with all three teams showing an interest in signing him.[10][11]

Arsenal[edit]

Freeman joined Premier League side Arsenal on 30 January 2008, for a fee reported to be in the region of £200,000.[12] He signed a two-year deal to become part of Arsenal's youth set-up on the club's scholar scheme.[12] On signing Freeman, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger described the player as "a very interesting prospect".[13] Freeman made his first appearance for Arsenal's U18 side in a 3–2 defeat against Ipswich Town in the Premier Academy League.[14] During the 2008–09 season, Freeman continued to progress at Arsenal, scoring seven goals from 15 appearances for the U18's, opening the season with a brace against Everton,[15] also making one substitute appearance for the reserve side during the campaign.[16] In April 2009, Freeman signed professional terms with the club.[16] A week after signing a professional contract with the club, Freeman played for the Arsenal reserve side in a 2–1 defeat to local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, coming on as an 85th-minute substitute in the match.[17] During the 2009–10 campaign, Freeman scored 16 times in 24 games, including scoring two goals in the Academy League Final, a 5–3 victory over Nottingham Forest.[18] The season also marked Freeman's first goal at reserve level against Chelsea in a 2–1 victory on 15 February 2010.[19] He went on to make 11 appearances for Arsenal's second string, most of which came during the latter stages of the season.[20]

Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Freeman signed for League One side Yeovil Town on loan until 31 December 2010.[20][21] On joining Yeovil Town, Freeman stated that he was now "getting to an age" where he wanted some first-team experience, and that ideally the loan move would put him in first-team contention come the end of the season.[22] He scored on his debut against Leyton Orient on 7 August 2010, scoring the winning goal in first-half injury time in a 2–1 victory, ensuring Yeovil made a victorious start to the season.[23] He scored his second goal for the club in a 1–0 win against Rochdale, coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute and scoring the only goal of the game four minutes later, scoring on the rebound after Owain Tudur Jones' shot had initially been saved.[24] Freeman appeared regularly for Yeovil during the first half of the 2010–11 season, making 15 appearance and scoring twice for the Somerset-based club.[25] However, his loan spell was ended early due to injury, and Freeman returned to Arsenal in November 2010.[25] After regaining fitness, Freeman remained at Arsenal, "continuing to impress" regularly for the reserve side, scoring four goals during the season.[18] He signed a new contract with the club in April 2011.[18]

Stevenage[edit]

Freeman joined League One club Stevenage on loan from 17 November 2011 to 8 January 2012, with an option to extend the deal.[26] He made his debut for Stevenage two days after signing for the club, playing 86 minutes in a 0–0 away draw against Leyton Orient.[27] Freeman scored his first goal for the club in a 6–1 away victory over Colchester United on 26 December, coming on as a 57th-minute substitute and scoring Stevenage's fifth goal of the match with a "powerful close-range strike".[28] Five days later, on 31 December, Freeman once again made an impact after coming on from the substitute's bench, this time assisting Lawrie Wilson to score the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute in a 1–0 away win at Wycombe Wanderers.[29] The last game of Freeman's loan spell with the club was a 1–0 victory at Championship side Reading in the FA Cup third round.[30]

Freeman taking a corner kick playing for Stevenage in March 2013

He returned to his parent club on 8 January 2012, having played nine games and scored one goal during his loan spell.[31] Two days later, on 10 January, it was announced that Freeman had signed for Stevenage on a permanent basis for an undisclosed fee and on a contract until 2014.[32][33][34] On signing for Stevenage, Freeman stated — "It's good to be at Stevenage. There were a couple of bids elsewhere, but I really enjoyed my time on loan here, so I am delighted to stay. Now it's time to build a career for myself, it's good that I've had the opportunity to be taught by one of the best, but it's time to move on and try and make myself a better player".[35] Freeman's first game after signing for the club on a permanent basis was a 5–1 away victory at Rochdale.[36] He scored the opening goal of the match, and then doubled his tally in the second-half with a 25-yard strike.[37] He scored a long range strike in a 2–2 draw against Bournemouth,[38] before scoring twice in Stevenage's 6–0 away win against Yeovil Town in April 2012, taking his seasonal goal tally to six.[39] He scored his seventh goal of the season in Stevenage's vital win over play-off rivals Brentford, cutting in from the left wing and beating Simon Moore at his near post with a right-footed shot.[40] He made 32 appearances during the campaign, scoring seven times, as Stevenage lost in the League One play-off semi-finals.[41]

Freeman made his first appearance of the 2012–13 season in Stevenage's first game of the new campaign, playing the whole match in a 3–1 victory over AFC Wimbledon at Broadhall Way in the League Cup.[42] He scored his first goal of the season in a 2–2 home draw with Crewe Alexandra on 15 September 2012, scoring courtesy of a long-range effort that found the top corner of the goal, a game in which Stevenage came from two goals down to earn a point.[43] He struggled to maintain consistent performances throughout the middle of the season, and was regularly used as a substitute.[44] It was to be a six-month wait for Freeman to score his next goal, curling in a 25-yard free-kick to briefly restore parity in Stevenage's televised 3–1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park in March 2013.[45] He made 43 appearances in all competitions during the season, scoring two goals.[44]

Freeman remained at Stevenage for the 2013–14 season, his third season at the Hertfordshire club.[46] He scored his first goal of the season in Stevenage's 2–1 extra-time defeat to Premier League side Everton in the League Cup on 28 August 2013, briefly giving Stevenage the lead in the first-half with a left-footed finish from Oumare Tounkara's cross.[47] His second goal of the season came in Stevenage's second away win of the campaign, a 3–0 away victory at Crewe Alexandra on 22 October 2013.[48] Freeman also scored in a comfortable 4–0 home win over Stourbridge in the FA Cup on 7 December 2013.[49] At the end of the month, Stevenage stated Freeman had been the subject of several enquiries from Championship sides ahead of the 2014 January transfer window and that they would be willing to listen to offers for the player.[50] However, no move materialised and Freeman would ultimately see out the season at Stevenage.[46] Freeman had to wait almost four months for his next goals, a "stunning brace" in the second-half helped the club secure a 3–2 win away at Bradford City on 1 March 2014.[51] Freeman's opening goal in the match was scored from 25-yards, whilst his second, the winning goal, was scored courtesy of a well-worked free-kick with three minutes remaining.[51] He ended the season by scoring three times in the final five league fixtures in April 2014,[46] netting late consolation strikes in home defeats to Colchester United and Bristol City respectively,[52][53] as well as a late winning goal in a 3–2 victory over Walsall, Stevenage's first victory in eleven matches.[54] Freeman was almost ever-present during the campaign, playing 54 times and scoring eight goals, as Stevenage were relegated to League Two.[46] He was voted Stevenage's Player of the Year at the club's end-of-season awards.[55] At the end of the season, with his contract expiring in June, Stevenage triggered a 12-month extension clause to ensure Freeman was still contracted to the club.[56]

Bristol City[edit]

Despite Stevenage activating the 12-month clause in Freeman's contract, he signed for League One side Bristol City on 26 June 2014, joining for a six-figure fee and on a three-year deal.[57] Freeman made his Bristol City debut on the opening day of the 2014–15 season, playing the first 77 minutes in a 2–1 away win at Sheffield United.[58] He scored his first goal for Bristol City in a 1–1 draw with Rochdale on 23 August 2014, latching onto Mark Little's cross in the first-half.[59] Freeman scored twice in Bristol City's 3–0 victory against Peterborough United at London Road on 28 November 2014, taking his tally for the season to three goals.[60] He added to this when he scored late-on in a 2–0 win at Scunthorpe United on 17 January 2015, helping Bristol City secure their fourth straight victory.[61] Freeman scored three times within the space of five games in February 2015 into March 2015,[62] all three goals coming in separate away victories against Doncaster Rovers, Leyton Orient and Yeovil Town respectively.[63][64][65] During the season, Freeman also made five appearances in the Football League Trophy,[62] including a starting appearance in the final, a 2–0 win over Walsall at Wembley Stadium on 22 March 2015.[66] All of Freeman's seven goals during the campaign came in away fixtures, playing 56 times in all competitions as Bristol City secured promotion to the Championship after finishing the season as champions by an eight-point margin.[62][67]

Freeman started in Bristol City's first game back in the Championship at the start of the 2015–16 season, playing the whole match as they lost 2–0 away at Sheffield Wednesday.[68] A week later, on 15 August 2015, Freeman received the first red card of his career when he was sent-off for a high-footed challenge on Harlee Dean in a 4–2 home defeat to Brentford at Ashton Gate.[69][70] Freeman served his three-match suspension and returned to the first-team in September 2015,[71] scoring later that month in a 2–2 away draw against Ipswich Town courtesy of a deflected effort off of Tommy Smith.[72] The goal turned out to be Freeman's solitary goal during the campaign, making 44 appearances in all competitions as Bristol City consolidated their place back in the second tier of English football.[71]

He began the 2016–17 season at Bristol City, entering the final year of his three-year contract, and was a regular starter during the first half of the campaign.[73] Freeman opened his goalscoring account for the season in Bristol City's emphatic 4–0 victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage on 24 September 2016, scoring the second goal of the game.[74] He scored a "spectacular volley from 25 yards" in a 2–0 home win against Ipswich Town on 3 December 2016, helping Bristol City end a three-match losing run in the process.[75] Bristol City manager Lee Johnson stated he was resigned to losing Freeman in the January transfer window after the player rejected the offer of a new contract.[76] A year after his departure from Bristol City, Freeman stated that Bristol City were not forthcoming with any contract offer — "I was waiting over eight months for a contract that was so-called going to be offered to me. When they did it was really nowhere near what anyone else was on. So it was out of my hands. I probably wouldn’t have left if they had offered me the contract they said they were going to offer me earlier".[77] During his two-and-a-half years at Bristol City, Freeman made 121 appearances and scored 10 times.[1]

Queens Park Rangers[edit]

Freeman subsequently joined fellow Championship side Queens Park Rangers (QPR) on 30 January 2017, for an undisclosed fee and on a three-and-a-half year deal.[78] On signing Freeman, QPR manager Ian Holloway stated "I've been a great admirer of Luke and his creativity is something we'll really feel the benefits of".[78] He made his QPR debut two days after signing, on 1 February 2017, coming on as a 66th-minute substitute in a 2–2 draw with Newcastle United at St James' Park.[79] Freeman scored his first goal for QPR in his next match for the club ten days later, on 11 February 2017, halving the deficit in an eventual 2–1 home defeat to Huddersfield Town.[80] He scored once more that season, netting QPR's second in a comfortable 5–1 win over Rotherham United at Loftus Road on 18 March 2017.[81] He made 16 appearances during the second half of the season for his new club, scoring two times.[73]

The 2017–18 season served as Freeman's first full season at QPR, with the club still competing in the Championship.[82] He scored his first goal of the campaign with a low shot from outside the area to double QPR's advantage in an eventual 2–1 home victory over Ipswich Town on 9 September 2017, a win that maintained QPR's unbeaten start at Loftus Road.[83] Later that month, he scored a late equaliser courtesy of a 25-yard strike in a 1–1 away draw at Barnsley.[84] Freeman was also on hand to level in injury-time in QPR's 2–2 draw with Brentford on 27 November 2017, turning in Matt Smith's headed knockdown from close range.[85] He scored in consecutive away matches in February 2018 into March 2018,[82] the first coming in a 2–1 loss at Sheffield United,[86] before he appeared from the substitute's bench to score QPR's third goal as they secured a 3–1 victory over promotion-chasing Aston Villa at Villa Park on 13 March 2018.[87]

International career[edit]

Freeman made his debut for the England U16 side in the 2008 Montaigu Tournament in France, scoring on his debut in a 3–1 victory against Japan U16.[88] He also featured in the following two group matches, a 1–0 victory against Germany U16, followed by a 1–0 defeat to USA, with Freeman coming on as a second-half substitute in both games.[89][90] Having secured six points out of nine, England won their group, and subsequently beat their French counterparts in the final on penalties, Freeman playing 78 minutes of the match.[91]

After impressing during the Montaigu Tournament, Freeman was called up to the England U17 squad ahead of the 2008 Nordic Tournament, held in Sweden.[92] He featured in all three games during the tournament,[93][94][95] with England failing to qualify for the final due to Norway's superior goal scoring record.[95] Freeman made a further appearance in the third-fourth place play-off, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 6–1 defeat against Denmark.[96] He played in all three of England's 2009 UEFA U17 Championship qualification games in October 2008,[97] scoring in a 7–0 win against Estonia U17.[98] England narrowly qualified for the elite round, finishing in second place with five points.[99] Ahead of the elite round fixtures, Freeman was called up to represent the U17 side in the 2009 Algarve Tournament, a three-day friendly tournament, which was played in February 2009.[100] He started in all three games as England finished third in their group,[101][102] and scored once in the nation's only victory, a 4–0 win over Israel's U17 side.[103]

Freeman was named in England's squad to play in the elite round, the final qualification stage for the 2009 UEFA U17 Championship.[104] All three of England's elite round matches were played in Hungary in March 2009, with Freeman scoring the only goal of the game in England's first group game on 25 March, a 1–0 victory against Portugal.[105] He also scored again two days later as England U17's beat their Serbian counterparts 2–1 in Bük.[106] He made a late substitute appearance in the final group match, a 2–0 victory against Hungary, meaning England had secured a place in the final tournament.[107] Freeman was named in the 18-man squad for the tournament.[108] He played in two of England's three games, with the country finishing bottom of their group with one point.[109][110][111]

Style of play[edit]

Freeman was initially deployed solely as a winger in the early stages of his career.[112][113] He has generally been used on the left side for the majority of his career due to the fact he is left-footed.[114] He was often given a free role at Bristol City, drifting into the middle and shooting from distance.[115] During his time at QPR, Freeman has been used in more central roles as part of a midfield three.[116] QPR manager Ian Holloway has described Freeman has having a "wand of a left foot", as well as highlighting his creativity and desire to want the ball as plus-points.[114]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Dartford, Kent,[1] Freeman grew up in East London.[117] His parents made the decision to relocate to Gravesend, Kent, where Freeman attended St John's Secondary School.[117]

Career statistics[edit]

As of match played 19 April 2019
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Gillingham 2007–08[118] League One 1 0 1 0 0 0 1[a] 0 3 0
Arsenal 2007–08[118] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008–09[119] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009–10[120] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2010–11[25] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2011–12[31] Premier League 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Yeovil Town (loan) 2010–11[25] League One 13 2 0 0 1 0 1[a] 0 15 2
Stevenage 2011–12[31] League One 26 7 4 0 0 0 2[b] 0 32 7
2012–13[44] League One 39 2 1 0 2 0 1[a] 0 43 2
2013–14[46] League One 45 6 4 1 2 1 3[a] 0 54 8
Total 110 15 9 1 4 1 6 0 129 17
Bristol City 2014–15[62] League One 46 7 5 0 0 0 5[a] 0 56 7
2015–16[71] Championship 41 1 2 0 1 0 44 1
2016–17[73] Championship 18 2 0 0 3 0 21 2
Total 105 10 7 0 4 0 5 0 121 10
Queens Park Rangers 2016–17[73] Championship 16 2 0 0 16 2
2017–18[82] Championship 45 5 1 0 2 0 48 5
2018–19[121] Championship 42 7 4 0 1 1 47 8
Total 103 14 5 0 3 1 111 15
Career total 319 39 21 1 12 1 13 0 378 44
  1. ^ a b c d e Appearance(s) in Football League Trophy
  2. ^ Appearances in League One play-offs

Honours[edit]

England U16

Arsenal

Bristol City

Individual

References[edit]

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