Two Nescot students have been picked to play in Sutton United’s first team on Saturday (April 30), a week after the club won the National League South title.
Leon Dadey and Max Felloni are in the squad chosen to play Oxford City away, on the last game of the season and with the team on a run of 25 league games without defeat.
“We’re really lucky to be in the squad – this is a big opportunity for us,” said Liverpool supporter Leon Dadey, who at 17 is the academy’s top goal-scorer this season with a tally of 15.
“I’ve had a good season and I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I’m still young and I’ve got a lot left to learn.
“If I get picked to play [on Saturday] I think I’ll learn a lot about the difference in the intensity of the game, and about what’s expected of a player at that level of football.”
Max, 16 and a QPR fan, said: “It’s a lot different when you get to that level of football, and the players are playing for their wages rather than just to win points.
“It’ll be a bigger crowd than we’re used to, but I’m looking forward to the whole experience.”
The pair will travel to the match with the rest of the squad and former professional player Marvin Williams, who manages the Sutton United Academy FC programme.
Marvin, who ended his career at Sutton United after playing for Millwall, Yeovil, Brentford and Torquay United, has been giving them advice on how to get ready for the match.
“We’ve been talking about everything from what to eat for breakfast and about making sure they stay hydrated to how to prepare psychologically,” he said.
“Everyone at the academy is so proud of Leon and Max. It really proves that the system is working – that we can produce great young players, and help them keep improving.
“The whole day will be an experience for them, from travelling there in the coach to seeing the half-time talk, and I know they’ll do us and themselves proud.”
Students on Nescot’s Level 3 Sports programme have covered subjects from anatomy to health and fitness this year, as well as doing work experience.
The academy players focus on technical training on Monday and Tuesday, followed by a match on Wednesday, strength and conditioning work on Thursdays and Fridays and a rest at the weekend.
“They both deserve to have been chosen for their first team, and I know they’ll learn a lot from the experience and use it to keep improving.”
Last month Sheriff Njie, who also plays for the academy team, met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in central London as part of his work with urban youth charity XLP.
Sutton United, based on Gander Green Lane, won this year’s National League South title with a 2-0 win over Chelmsford City last weekend (April 23), winning promotion to the National League.
To find out more about the academy programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org