01 August, 2008

Rising to the Occasion

Over the last couple of weeks one youngster’s name has kept reverberating around the office: Jerson Dos Santos. For those not in the know (i.e. those with lives) he a 17-year-old prodigy who is famous for the fact that two years ago he had never played football before, and now he has had trials with the likes of Fulham, Portsmouth, and er, Norwich. This begs the question of how could he have managed to avoid playing football until the age of 15 growing up, as he did, in Portugal, while also infuriating many hard-working youth-team players who have fought for years to secure professional football club trials without success.

Playing last season in Conference South side Sutton United’s youth and reserves teams, the teenage striker fired in more than 30 goals in his first year with the club. With their recent abundance of highly-rated and exciting youthful talent, Crystal Palace are heading the race for his signature after he linked up with them earlier this week. Dos Santos featured in Palace's second string friendly with Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday and impressed manager Neil Warnock so much that he is continuing to train with the side, undoubtedly eying a potential deal after quitting Sutton this week. Agent Tony Finnigan told skysports.com: “I have seen and helped a number of players come from non-league football in recent years. He is currently at Crystal Palace and to be honest it would be a great move for him to go there, they have a young and talented squad and you know if you do well there you will get your chance.”

Ok, so all of you readers over the age of 17 out there, how depressing is this story? I’m sure you, like me, have battled with mediocrity for years playing with various teams, and now there’s this kid who’s 17, been playing the game for two years and has already trained with the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Talent. Having passed the age where Ian Wright was coincidentally spotted on Hackney Marshes a couple of years ago, this latest story just compounds the realization that maybe, just maybe, I won’t actually make it as a professional footballer. I guess I’ll just have to concentrate all my energy into getting the band that record deal then…

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