An aspiring footballer from The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has won a trial at Leyton Orient FC.
Leyton Orient FC has been an official partner of the College’s Football Academy since its launch in 2013, as well as its Accountancy Academy.
Coaches from the League Two side provide training to the Academy’s elite and second teams, which both compete in the Association of Colleges Football League.
They agreed to offer trials to a handful of players this year and were so impressed with Ruben Junior that they took him on earlier this season.
The 16-year-old, who is studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Sport, was excited to have been given the chance to trial out with the east London club.
Portuguese-born Ruben said: “This is the opportunity I’d been waiting for since I came to England over a year ago.
“The football programme at CONEL is very good. The coaches really motivate the players and encourage you to work hard and not to give up. We’re lucky to have ex-players as coaches. I don’t know if other teams are as privileged as us.”
Ruben moved to England in 2015 having begun playing in his home country for his local team Real Massama near Lisbon before joining the junior squad at European giants Benfica.
Nicknamed Pogba by his teammates, due to his likeness to Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba, he cites Liverpool as his favourite English club and Philippe Coutinho andRoberto Firmino among his favourite players for the Reds.
Ruben is also a fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Ballotelli and a number of former international stars, including ex-Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf.
“My ambition is to become a professional footballer, playing at the highest standard in the Premier League, and even get into my national team. I love everything about football from training to playing the game, and the hunger and competiveness to win.”
The Football Academy has gone from strength to strength since it was formed with applications up from around 70 players at the start of the 2015/16 season to 110 this year.
Players not only have access to professional coaching, but also use of the College’s sports centre including the gym, tailored fitness and nutrition programme, performance analysis and physio and medical support.
Jonathan Silman, Head of School – Sport, Public Services and Key Stage 4, said: “We are very proud of Ruben. He is an exceptionally gifted young footballer and has the skill and ability to go far in the game.
“He really stood out when he joined the College and this is a great opportunity for him to develop his talent. He has put the work in both academically and on the football pitch and thoroughly deserves his chance at Leyton Orient.”