For any lad growing up in England, football was a craze. We played it during our lunch breaks before school and after school. May times I would forget to even eat my lunch or I would eat my sandwiches while playing. As you can imagine, I wasn’t the cleanest kid and my mother often despaired of me. I would return home with my uniform caked in mud and grass stains that really tested my mother’s patience. I took a lot for granted – I never thought of clean uniforms and presentability. All I thought about was the new football I would get for my birthday – I asked my folks you see.
Even as a child, I knew money was tight, but I never really asked for anything much and football was such a passion for me. Whenever I was done with my homework – my mum never let me out otherwise – smart lady – I would go out into the streets and kick around with my neighbors. As I grew a little older, my mum took me to the training grounds for where the Steelmen played. If you’re a kid and you’re a huge football fan, meeting your local heroes is a dream come true.
Not only did I get a brand new spanking football for my birthday, I got to meet Connor Kennedy. He was a local lad who got signed up to the Steelmen and it was a secret dream of mine to play for the club. My mum and dad always believed in buying local, staying local and all that and although many kids my age dreamed of playing for the big boys like ManU, I wanted to put the Steelmen on the map. I got him to autograph my football shirt and I refused to let my mum wash it.
I thought I kept my football dream hidden – but you can’t really fool your parents. Ever since that day, she would take time out from her busy schedule to drive me to the training grounds at Lodge Park every Thursday and I would kick around my ball there. My skills did get better as some very good players used to come there and play too. I never realized it but the manager of the team had noticed me and had asked about me. My mother knew but didn’t want me to be disappointed in case nothing came out of it, but knowing my dream, she kept taking me there.
I played for my school and helped our team win various matches and I slowly began to be known for my skills on the field. When you truly love something, it shows. And when I was on the field, with my legs controlling the ball, I also used my mind – I would think ahead and look for openings or players to pass to. I have to give thanks for my time at the training grounds, because we got the opportunity to see how the best played and that is how I picked up my skills. Needless to say, Wright came to talk to me and I will be signed on to the team even though I’m only 16. That’s a dream come true for me!