September 21 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Amateur footballer Oliver Noel is on the verge of signing a professional contract with League One club Swindon Town after being selected to train with their first-team squad.
The 19-year-old defender, of Finchley Road in Hampstead, impressed Swindon manager Mark Cooper during the final of Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition, which attracted a record-breaking 5,700 entries.
Noel made it through a series of trial stages and a semi-final match before lining up with 21 other finalists to compete in an 11-a-side match at Leyton Orient’s Matchroom Stadium on Sunday March 2.
Orient manager Russell Slade, Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth and Swindon’s Cooper were all in attendance – and they made two selections each, with Noel impressing Cooper.
The player said: “When I got the call to say I’d been selected to train at Swindon I just felt so relieved. It was a long week of waiting to hear back from the managers!
“I think I performed well at the final. I just tried to keep things simple and worked hard throughout the game. I’ll be keeping myself healthy and as sharp as possible.”
Cooper will now assess Noel and one other selected player when he joins his first-team squad for a few days of intense training. He will then award one player a life-changing one-year professional contract.
Cooper said: “It was a great day, and really good to see so many young, talented boys getting involved and giving their all.
“It’s a difficult situation for the boys. Being in such a pressured environment, they often try to do too much. I just have to look beyond that as a manager.
“I selected Oliver based on his physical attributes and great attitude. I was also looking at how I might work with him in the future, looking for things we could develop and how we might shape him.”