American keeper completes Town move

IPSWICH TOWN: American Cody Cropper has achieved the first part of his footballing dream.

Now the 17-year-old goalkeeper is setting off to achieve his next goal after signing a two-year contract with the Blues.

The lad from Maple Grove, Minnesota was on the bench when Ipswich played a behind-closed-doors reserve game in London against QPR yesterday having played 90 minutes in the Premier Academy League 2-2 draw against Leeds United at the weekend.

He has had to overcome a mountain of red tape to just get this far, but it has made the 6’ 4” custodian who has made the USA Under-20 squad even more determined to make the grade.

“Getting on the team is the easy part,” Cropper said. “Now is when all the hard work begins.”

It was last Thursday that his international clearance finally came through and he’s agreed a two-year deal, with a full pro contract set to be signed when he turns 18 in February.

Cropper’s grandmother Dorothy lives in Coventry and she has signed his current scholar contract as his legal guardian after the keeper ended up at Portman Road after making several trips to England for trials with a number of clubs including Arsenal, Birmingham, Portsmouth, West Ham and Wolverhampton.

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A delay with the amount of paperwork saw Leicester City eventually run out of patience, but Ipswich have turned out to be more resilient.

“It was five or six weeks before Ipswich made a decision,” said Cropper. “It seemed like it was pouring with rain every day but I finally got my chance to play and it has gone well since then.

Cropper admits he has always been a good match day keeper but needed to improve his intensity in, says that his son has improved greatly.

“In the last four months I’ve picked up a new aggression, a new personality in training,” he added.

“I look at goalkeepers like Brian Murphy, Arran Lee-Barrett and our new signing Marton Fulop and they go into training with the mentality that nothing is getting by them and that training is just as important at matches.

“I think I’m starting to pick that up and bring that into my own personality.

“One of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to cope with being away from home and my parents is my grandmother.

“Growing up, my grandmother lived with us. I always looked at her as one of my best friends. To this day she is like a second mother to me. She’s told me many times she’s one of my biggest fans and always will be no matter what. I believe she is a major reason for my success.”

His father Joe grew up playing soccer in England and spent some time at professional level in the US.

Cropper is in Thomas Rongen’s USA Under-20 squad for a trip to South America this week.

“It’s a great opportunity to show how much I’ve progressed since I’ve been with the Under-17 national team,” added Cropper. “I feel like I’m really ready this time.

“Training with Ipswich first team I’ll be a bit faster and better with my technical ability and more confident in my decision making and my playmaking.”

Cropper flies out to meet the team in Miami, Florida today with the team taking part in a tournament in Peru from September 6 with matches against Paraguay, Colombia and Peru.

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