Young stars have eyes on the Premier league

THE parents of two talented young footballers from Westminster are on a knife edge to find out if their sons will sign to Fulham FC

Sanchez Manning

THE parents of two talented young footballers from Westminster are on a knife edge to find out if their sons will sign to Fulham FC.

Taylor Hogan and Arif Hattabi are waiting to be told if they will be signed by the Premier League football club, which was narrowly saved from relegation this week.

After being selected to attend Fulham's regional elite talent centre, Stonebridge in north-west London, the two 11-year-olds have been lined up to play for the club's elite academy.

The academies are the highest tier of Fulham's talent-spotting process and youths accepted to them are primed as the next footballing superstars.

According to their mothers, who live on the same street in Pimlico, the boys have been summoned to go back to Stonebridge on June 30, when they expect to be given a final decision.

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Naimer Bougrine, 35, said that her son Arif was one of only five boys in Westminster to be picked to go to Stonebridge.

"I think he is fantastic," she said.

"He's a left footer and he's always been a striker.

"He once scored 58 goals in one season. They call him the young Wayne Rooney.

"Going to Fulham would be great because it means they think he has a chance to be a professional footballer."

"I would do anything for him to get in.

"He has all his hopes up now and he even sleeps with his football at night."

Taylor's mother, Lisa Readman, 29, is also worried about her son's fate.

"Two weeks ago they told us to come back and said he was going to get signed to the academy.

"So he thought he'd got in but we've heard nothing yet and they just told us to come back in June."

Both Taylor and Arif were singled out by coaches when they started attending a new talent centre launched at Paddington recreation ground in February.

Nathier Gamieldien, sports development officer at the grounds in Maida Vale, explained that the idea behind the scheme is to provide more opportunities for young people in the borough.

"It caters for kids between seven and 15," he said.

"They tend to be from under-privileged backgrounds and can't afford the more elite clubs.

"We hope that Fulham's involvement will bring more kids to Paddington rec and help promote girls' football, which has very poor numbers across London."

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