As a young footballer, I was released from academies three times. I also failed four trials with pro clubs. And I wasn’t the only one who experienced such rejection.
Young footballers up and down the country are sold the dream of success. Pristine training facilities, top class coaching, psychologists, nutritionists, club kit, agents. It’s easy to get carried away.
Less than 0.5% of players who sign for an academy at the age of 9 end up making it as a professional footballer.
It’s a statistic that’s close to my heart. I’ve always been fascinated by youth development, and after reading Michael Calvin’s excellent No Hunger in Paradise, I made the decision to write something based on my own experiences.
The result is No Final a Whistle. Aimed at readers aged 9-13, the story follows young footballer Alfie Bennett as he signs for the famous Borough Academy. Initially overjoyed at the prospect of his new reality, Alfie soon realises that all is not quite as it seems.
Drawing from my experiences of academy football, the book seeks to teach the power of resilience. After all, one person’s opinion is never fact. Just ask Jamie Vardy. Or Harry Kane. Or even Sam Clucas, my old teammate who provides the book’s introduction.
I hope you enjoy it…
Pre-order No Final Whistle: https://www.waterstones.com/book/9780995586154