Football dreams come true as Michael heads stateside
15-year-old Michael will travel to the USA in the autumn of 2012 to continue his studies as part of the programme, which will give him a five year visa to the States, studying for four years and allowing him to develop his football career.
In a programme that could be worth as much as £25,000 a year, Michael will be able to continue his development as a footballer, while at the same time gaining a valuable academic qualification.
Laurelhill Community College pupil Michael, who will turn 16 next month, was the only boy from Northern Ireland accepted onto the programme, which is organised by Soccer Icon Ltd, whose Managing Director is Joe McLaughlin, a former Captain of Chelsea and Scottish International.
Michael’s dad, Michael Senior, said his son is “over the moon” to have been chosen.
“We’re all thrilled, we can’t believe it. Football has always been his big love, he wants to be a footballer.”
Michael said his son, a keen Liverpool supporter, has dreams of playing in the English Premiership.
“He definitely dreams of playing for a Premiership club. He has played for the County sides and was part of the trophy winning squad at Laurelhill last year.”
Michael is currently part of the Under 16 squad at Lisburn Distillery, having been with the ‘wee Whites’ for two years, after he began his football career with Hillsborough Boys and Linfield.
Dad Michael added: “If he gets good grades in school he can study anywhere in the USA, we’ll just have to see where he ends up. We’ve been told that if the kids last for six weeks, they will definitely stay and that lower league football is guaranteed, at least.
“He’s really looking forward to it, he can’t wait, he just wishes it was this October he was going. Michael is a homebird but he is so focused on his football and we will take turns to go over and visit him.”
Michael’s younger brother Matthew hopes to follow in his big brother’s footsteps, with the 11-year-old already playing at Lisburn Distillery.”
Writing to congratulate Michael on his place on the programme, Joe McLaughlin said: “Having assessed both your sporting and academic credentials, I am pleased to inform you that Soccer Icon would be delighted to accept you onto our Soccer Scholarship Programme. Soccer Icon is a specialist company that assists a small number of talented players to gain a soccer scholarship/placement in the USA.”