Woking have today announced the signing of goalkeeper Alexis Andre Jr. on a month-to-month contract.
The move comes after the social media star, who boasts 4.5 million followers on TikTok, had a short spell with tier 7 side Hashtag United, following his release by Maidenhead United at the end of last season.
Andre Jr. came to England with Bristol Rovers as a product of the Nike Academy. He initially joined the development squad at The Gas before being promoted to the first team, though he only ever made one appearance for the club.
This came in September 2017 when the then 20-year-old came on in the second half against Walsall after starting goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was sent off. Andre Jr. made a number of impressive saves and kept a clean sheet in the 28 minutes in which he played.
But, Andre Jr. was never able to establish himself in the first-team squad as he had a number of loan spells at lower league clubs. Though these loan moves were often short-term deals, Andre Jr. was still able to pick up experience in the English lower leagues as he played for the likes of Tiverton Town, Truro City and Salisbury.
After being released by Bristol Rovers in the summer of 2021, the 6’3 goalkeeper found himself without a club until October, when he signed for Folkestone Invicta. However, his stay in the Isthmian Premier Division was to be short-lived as he signed for Dover Athletic in November 2021.
Andre Jr. joined at what was undoubtedly a tough time for Dover, with a small budget and points deduction for forfeiting games the season before meaning that the Whites were favourites to get relegated from the National League. Despite this, the goalkeeper acquainted himself well as he made 12 appearances in the National League before leaving Dover at the end of the season.
Last season, Andre Jr. was at Maidenhead United. Though he wasn’t initially the first-choice, the goalkeeper managed to force his way into the side as he made 19 appearances in all competitions for Alan Devonshire’s side and he managed to get selected in the National League Team of The Week on one occasion.
Unfortunately, Andre Jr. was again released at the end of the season and he joined Hashtag United as their goalkeeper for TST (a 7-a-side football tournament held in the USA) at the start of the summer. He was then unable to find a club during preseason so he temporarily returned to Hashtag United after their first-choice goalkeeper got injured. He won their August Player of the Month award before departing.
I believe that Andre Jr’s move to Woking is going to be different from his two prior stints at National League clubs. Dover and Maidenhead had relatively little to lose by giving someone like Andre Jr. a chance in goal as Dover’s relegation seemed inevitable by the time he joined whilst Maidenhead were never under any major threat of going down.
At Woking, there is much more ambition and with that comes much more pressure, meaning that opportunity for Andre Jr. will likely be much more limited. In addition to that, his month-to-month contract means that, if he is suddenly needed and he doesn’t perform, it is much easier to get rid of him than it would have been in previous years.
On the other hand, Woking are a fully-fledged professional club these days whereas Dover and Maidenhead have been part-time/semi-professional. Training more often should allow Andre Jr. to develop and elevate his game to the next level which may mean he is able to challenge Will Jaaskelainen for the starting spot in Darren Sarll’s side.
From Woking’s point of view, the signing makes complete sense. The club only had one senior goalkeeper contracted after Joe Day’s loan was ended and he was subsequently sent to Yeovil on deadline day after a poor first couple of performances for the club.
Andre Jr. is a good shot-stopper and he has a reasonable number of games in the National League under his belt which should lead to him being the perfect understudy for Jaaskelainen this season.
Additionally, his social media following should help to gain exposure for the club and the terms of his contract make the move relatively low risk as it is easy to let Andre Jr. go if he is not up to par.