Backgrounder: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – Blog


Winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing became the latest player to sign for Derby County on Saturday night as he signed a two-year deal.

The 30-year-old joins the Rams from fellow Sky Bet League One Sheffield on Wednesday after his short-term deal with the Owls ended in the summer.

Here is a little more information about our new recruit:

Emerging talents

Born in Birmingham, Mendez-Laing rose through the youth ranks at Wolverhampton Wanderers and showed glimpses of his emerging talent early in his career.

He was recognized by England’s youth teams representing the Under-16s and Under-17s, while he made his senior debut for Wolves in a penalty shoot-out win over Swindon Town in the EFL Cup in 2010.

He won the Man of the Match award aged just 17, but that would prove to be his only involvement with Molineux’s senior side.

He signed his first professional contract but was soon sent out on loan to gain valuable league experience. League One side Peterborough, which featured Aaron McLean, George Boyd and Craig Mackail-Smith as their front three, was his first destination aged just 18.

While he was limited to brief appearances, he still racked up an impressive number of appearances in his first professional season in league football. He played 40 times in total and scored five goals.

He scored his first professional goal in January 2011 in a 4-1 win over Walsall, while he enjoyed a positive end to the campaign scoring three goals in the last four games as Posh reached the League play-offs 1. However, they were beaten in the semi-finals by MK Dons.

Mendez-Laing returned to Molineux but was immediately loaned out to League One as Sheffield United was his next stop. He made 11 appearances at Bramall Lane, scoring once in a win over Bury.

At the start of the 2012/13 season, the winger was on the move again. Peterborough, who had just been promoted to the Championship, offered a sum of around £100,000 which was accepted by Wolves and he returned to London Road permanently.

He scored in his first game against Posh, but they lost 5-2 to Burnley at Turf Moor. In a bid to boost his fitness, Peterborough sent the winger on loan to League One side Portsmouth for two months before returning to London Road as they battle to avoid relegation.

The winger did his best to score in a win over Millwall and on the final day of the campaign against Crystal Palace to put Posh ahead, but two late Palace goals saw them relegated to third place early on. the first time. to ask .

find his feet

Now 21 at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, Mendez-Laing had considerable experience behind his belt for someone still young.

He scored three goals for Posh before Christmas but was loaned out to Shrewsbury Town on a short-term deal to develop his fitness.

He featured six times before returning to London Road to help Peterborough qualify for the League One play-offs, but they were beaten by Leyton Orient in the semi-finals.

The winger started the 2014/15 campaign with Posh but again spent the final end of the campaign on loan, this time to League Two side Cambridge United.

He scored on his debut in a loss to Portsmouth and he would make 11 appearances in total without finding the back of the net.

Mendez-Laing had undoubted talent but needed a new challenge, and Rochdale presented him with an opportunity at the start of the 2015/16 season. He had left Peterborough after three years but settled in the North West Well.

He scored his first professional hat-trick in an FA Cup win over Swindon Town in November 2015, as he netted a brace in a local derby win over Bury which endeared him of the Spotland crowd.

On his return to London Road with Rochdale that season, the winger haunted his former side, scoring in a 2-1 win for Keith Hill’s side.

Ten goals in 36 appearances was a good comeback in his first season with Rochdale and it was enough to earn a one-year contract extension at Spotland.

In his second season in the North West, Mendez-Laing had again established himself as a first-team regular. He impressed too. He provided a number of assists, while his goalscoring return hit double digits again.

But, it was also a progressive season in terms of appearances. He played 49 times as Rochdale vied for a place in the League One play-offs, but they narrowly fell short.

He went through a purple smudge in March 2017, scoring four goals during the month which earned him a nomination for League One’s Player of the Month, but his performances had alerted upper division clubs to what he could TO DO.

With his contract at Spotland set to come to an end, there was a race to secure his signature. He eventually left Rochdale after scoring 20 goals in 85 games, while also contributing 19 assists, and joined Championship side Cardiff City.

To give a kick

Returning to the Championship with the Bluebirds, managed by Neil Warnock, Mendez-Laing knew he had the opportunity to give his career a boost. After the Warnock side got off to a strong start to the campaign, there was a strong chance of promotion to the Premier League.

Personally, his start to life in South Wales could not have started better. He scored in an EFL Cup first round win over Portsmouth before scoring in three consecutive league matches.

He netted a brace in a convincing 3-0 victory over Aston Villa, while goals against Sheffield United and Wolves, both in victories, earned him the 2017 Championship Player of the Month award.

His speed and electric pace made him a handful for defenders and with the backing of his manager he was free to express himself on the wing in what proved to be a memorable campaign.

He provided six assists and two more goals as Cardiff steered promotion to the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship.

It would be the winger’s first taste of top-flight football and he showed no signs of letting the chance slip away.

He scored his first top goal at the Emirates Stadium in a narrow 2-1 loss to Arsenal, while his second came in an away win against Brighton & Hove Albion.

However, it was always going to be an uphill battle to avoid relegation in their first season back at the top. They fought hard, but ultimately failed. But Mendez-Laing retired from the Premier League campaign in style.

Having already suffered relegation, Cardiff traveled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the final game of the campaign. The winger put on a solid display and proved to be the match winner as he netted a brace in a 2-0 win at the Theater of Dreams on an afternoon he will never forget.

Cardiff came close to returning to the top flight on first demand as they reached the Championship play-offs in the 2019/20 campaign affected by COVID-19. Warnock had been replaced midway through the campaign by Neil Harris.

Mendez-Laing scored three times, including a winner at the City Ground in a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest, but they were beaten in the semi-finals by eventual winners Fulham before leaving the club in September 2020.

He joined Warnock in the 2020/21 campaign, signing for Middlesbrough and made his Pride Park Stadium debut as the Rams lost 2-1.

The winger scored his only goal for the club in a 3-0 win over Stoke City in March 2021, but after making nine appearances he left the club at the end of his short-term contract.

Last season, Mendez-Laing spent the campaign with League One side Sheffield Wednesday, scoring two goals in 19 appearances as they were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by eventual winners Sunderland.

The winger, who mainly plays on the right side, signed a two-year contract with Derby County and following the announcement that the club left administration on Friday, he became the third new addition to the squad .

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