EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD footballer Jamie Searle arrived in England in June with the hope of securing a spot in an English football team.
His Melville United, Hamilton, coach had set up some contacts, but there were no promises.
Last week, he signed a contract with premier league club Aston Villa as goalkeeper for the club’s professional under 23 team.
His proud father, Craig Searle, said 18-year-old Jamie had gone to England full of hope and was thrilled to have secured a one-year professional contract with the club.
“He knows he has a lot of work to do if he wants to continue with the club after this first year,” he said.
Following some pre-season games, the competition season started last Friday, but Jamie has had to wait until he receives clearance from New Zealand football, something that should happen in the next week or so, said Craig.
Recent commentaries from the pre-season games have included glowing references to Jamie’s performances.
Playing a match against Tamworth, Jamie saved two penalties and was named by the commentator as one to keep an eye on.
Aston Villa’s top team for many years played in the premier league, but in recent years has been in the championship league, one step down. But success from last season has elevated the team back into the premier league for this year.
The English football season runs through until May next year and Craig said he would love to go there to watch his son play, “but I’ll just have to wait and see”.