Alfie May interview: Charlton forward on his hopes of scoring more league goals than Erling Haaland in 2023

Sky Sports exclusive: Charlton forward Alfie May on a difficult decision to leave Cheltenham in the summer, adapting to play as a No 10 and aiming to register more league goals than Erling Haaland in 2023

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Charlton forward Alfie May discusses the success he has enjoyed as a No 10 in his first few months at The Valley

Alfie May’s career would have been going in a whole new direction had he left Cheltenham for US side San Diego Loyal 18 months ago.

Sold the American dream by Landon Donovan last January – as he explained in an interview with Sky Sports last year – he and his family were ready to move before then-Robins boss Michael Duff talked him out of a move across the pond.

It is just as well he did – last month, the club was shut down just over four years after its foundation. “He knew exactly what he was doing when he sat me down,” May says, smiling.

He was the main man in Gloucestershire, but had arguably reached his ceiling there. And with a record of a goal just under every other game across four seasons and 48 goals in 99 games in all competitions over 2021/22 and 2022/23, when the summer came, he was in demand.

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Charlton’s Alfie May on his decision to leave Cheltenham after three-and-a-half years in the summer

  • May wins Sky Bet League One Player of the Month
  • Charlton fixtures | League One table
  • Get Sky Sports | Download the Sky Sports App

When Charlton came knocking, and the chance to return closer to his family arose, it was not long before he signed a two-year deal at The Valley for a reported fee in the region of £250,000.

That is not to say leaving was not a wrench, particularly now given his former club are 23rd in League One, having scored just seven goals in 16 games so far this term.

“It was a difficult decision to make – Cheltenham are an important club to me,” he says.

“They gave me a platform to perform and I thank them very much for that; I just needed that belief in me to play me week in, week out. They’ve got a special place in my heart and I still keep an eye on their results.

Charlton's next five League One fixtures

  • Carlisle (a) – November 25, 3pm
  • Cheltenham (h) – November 28, 7.45pm
  • Cambridge (h) – December 9, 3pm
  • Barnsley (a) – December 16, 3pm
  • Burton (h) – December 23, 3pm

“I know my goals were important, but I would never say that, because I’ve left, they are not a good team. They are still the same team and there are a lot of players that were there with me and they are very good players, they have just really been unfortunate.

“It’s a tough league and they aren’t one of the big teams. On and off the pitch, they know how hard they’ve got to work. I really hope they turn a corner and stay in this division.”

Cheltenham’s loss has very much been Charlton’s gain.

Ahead of Saturday’s long trip to Carlisle, the 30-year-old forward has scored six goals in his last five games and 15 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions for the Addicks.

His 12 League One goals have not only put him top of the division’s scoring charts, but also helped him pass a half-century of goals in the division since the start of 2021/22 – his tally of 55 is 13 more than Portsmouth’s Colby Bishop has managed.

That is all well and good, but there is only one thing on his mind. He beams as he reveals it.

“I saw I’m one league goal behind Erling Haaland in 2023 and so I want to beat him!”

“I know he’s doing it at the elite level, but at the end of the year, I want to have beaten him. It’s good to set yourself little targets like that and it puts your name out there, too.”

Most surprisingly, though, is not that May has thrived in a new environment this term, but that he has done so by often playing in a new position as No 10.

Image: The 30-year-old was named Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for October

So how did what has become a pivotal transformation come about?

“It started in a couple of games when the new gaffer [Michael Appleton] came in. He put me in there one day and I scored two goals in the first game I played in there. You stick to what you know.

“I’d played there a couple of times at Cheltenham, but we didn’t really have the ball as much as Charlton have got it, so it’s about finding little pockets and waiting for the boys behind to find me and play through me.

“It’s different to what I’m used to, but I’m really enjoying it. I’m getting into the box late and getting tap-ins. You see the best strikers in the world standing in the middle of the goal and tapping it in – as a striker, you just want them to hit the back of the net.

“I feel really confident at the minute. I’ve got the shackles off at the minute, playing a free role and just trying to work as hard as I can. As a striker, you want to score goals, so as long as I’m on the pitch, I don’t care where I play.”

Surely that makes May want to test himself at a higher level before the close of his career?

“I think that’s the ambition of every footballer,” he continues. “One thing about me is that I know things are not going to be given to me.

“People probably say I’m getting on, but I still feel like I’m 21. I came into the game late and I’ve hopefully got 10 more years in the game. I just want to keep scoring goals, hopefully get us promoted and play in the Championship for this club.

He is careful as he talks about promotion. “You don’t want to say the wrong thing in terms of it blowing up on social media,” he warns. Charlton are five points outside the play-off places at the moment, but the aim is clear.

“As a footballer, if you don’t have an ambition of succeeding then there’s no point playing the game. You might as well give up because we’re all in this industry to be the best we can and play as high as we can.

“I want to experience the Championship. Coming from where I’ve come from in non-league and to say I’ve played in the Championship would be amazing. That’s not me disrespecting League One or League Two, but I’ve played in those leagues.

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Watch highlights of the Sky Bet League One match between Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic

“When I signed here, the first thing I said was promotion and that’s why I signed. To come here, score loads of goals and get this team promoted.

“We want to drive this club to where it should be. We know that Charlton were in the Premier League and had successful seasons in there. It’s a massive club, so we need to all come together and drive as one.”

Charlton spent six of the previous seven seasons before 2023/24 outside the second tier, but with May in perhaps the form of his life, they boast a good chance of returning in May.


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