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Hampstead’s Oliver Noel is a step closer to winning a dream professional football contract after reaching the final of a national talent-spotting competition.

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Right-back Noel, 19, from Finchley Road is one of 22 players who have progressed to the end of Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract contest, which attracted a record number of 5,700 entrants this year.

He impressed the club representatives and scouts in his semi-final at Leyton Orient and will now compete in an 11-a-side match against fellow amateur hopefuls at Orient’s Brisbane Road ground on Sunday March 2.

Three lucky winners will earn professional contracts with Leyton Orient, Swindon Town or Wycombe Wanderers.

Noel said: “This is a great surprise. With there being so many boys at the trials it’s great to be through to the final.

“I’m now going to keep fit and in shape for the final – bring it on!”

Orient manager Russell Slade said: “Talent is important, but what we’re after is someone with the right attitude who is willing to give everything and also take things on board and learn.”

Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth said: “Some of these players will have dropped out of the league system and had experience before – this is a second chance for them.”

Swindon manager Mark Cooper added: “As well as their natural talent, I’ll be looking out for players that are not afraid of rolling their sleeves up, doing a bit of hard work and committing to the cause.”

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