Mahurangi College student Samuel Telfer has completed an academy tour of the United Kingdom and is looking forward to bringing his new knowledge back to the local football field.
The 15-year-old spent two weeks in England and Scotland last December, after being selected from a West Ham United International Academy Elite Player ID Camp in New Zealand.
Telfer says he owes his selection to his grandmother and an orange in his lunch box.
“It was the end of the programme at Saint Kentigern College and I was the only one left with the coaches because my Grandma was still shopping at Sylvia Park,” Telfer says.
“I decided to start playing footy with an orange from my lunchbox to show off my skills and that’s when ex-West Ham footballer George Cowie offered me a spot on the tour.”
The mid-fielder completed a second camp in NZ before making the trip to London via Melbourne, Singapore and Dubai.
“I had never been outside of the North Island before so it was a mixture of excitement and nerves getting on that plane.
“I was exhausted after the flight, but we went straight to Wembley and into a game of five-a-side football for an hour.”
The tour involved visiting a number of academies for trainings, matches and a chance to get spotted.
“I learnt a lot from the coaches over there that I hadn’t picked up in New Zealand and I always made sure to ask what I could improve on.
“My training at Wolverhampton went really well and the coach mentioned afterwards he would be watching me closely in the match that night.
“Unfortunately, it was really cold on the tour and I hadn’t been stretching enough so my calf strained and I missed my big chance, which was gutting.”
Telfer also got the chance to experience Premier League football matches watching teams such as Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham.
“The atmosphere compared to an All Whites game was incredible. I remember buying a hot dog at one stadium and the noise coming from the entry tunnel was like nothing I’d heard before.
“At the Liverpool match, in Stoke, I got to go pitch-side right up close to the likes of Sadio Mane and Peter Crouch, which was unbelievable.”
The journey through Scotland was a coach trip going north from Edinburgh to Aberdeen.
“We really struggled in the games against Scottish academies because we were playing in shorts and short sleeve jerseys in the snow. They were much better prepared.
“We got to meet a 19-year-old Rangers player on the tour and asked him questions about life as a professional footballer.”
Telfer was forced to miss half of one match in Scotland due to being caught up past curfew by George Cowie.
“I didn’t realise we couldn’t be out past 10.30pm so I got a half-match ban. I ended up going on in the second half and scoring an equaliser from a corner before we lost 3-2 in the last minute of the game.”
Telfer is looking to play for the Mahurangi College First XI again this year, possibly as captain, as well as two Warkworth club teams.
“My dream is to move to England when I’m 18 and trial for different clubs, so this trip was such a valuable experience for me.”