Sherratt living a dream at Leyton Orient
- Credit: Archant
Teenager sets out plans after winning contract at Brisbane Road
For any young footballer the aspirations to become a professional are huge and the journey to get there is even bigger.
From kicking a football around in the playground at school with jumpers as goalposts, to playing in front of thousands of fans all chanting your name.
Most schoolboys daydream about the possibility, but only a handful will actually make it and fulfill their childhood ambitions.
Though for one young footballer, his dream became reality and is looking forward to a year as a professional footballer with Leyton Orient.
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Nineteen-year-old Jack Sherratt, a former Port Vale Centre of Excellence player, heard about the Samsung ‘Win a Pro Contract’ competition which offered the chance for entrants to win a professional contract for a year at either Leyton Orient or Swindon Town and was quick to sign up.
“I found out in an unusual way actually,someone who works with my mum saw an article about the competition in the paper which explained the different stages and trials and how to enter,” said Sherratt, who had been playing for non league side Kidsgrove Athletic of the Northern Premier League Division One North before winning the contract.
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“My mum then told me and that is how I happened to enter the competition, so I’m grateful to her for telling my mum. I need to buy her some flowers and bottle of wine to say thank you.
“I was playing for Kidsgrove Athletic in the before I signed up and this helped in the buildup to the competition as I ensured that I was fit and ready to go.”
As over 5,500 entered the competition, a selection of players were shortlisted and the first stage consisted of simple dribbling and passing drills as well as five-a-side matches.
After the second stage, which involved four matches in different areas of the country, the number of entrants was cut down to only 22 players.
Sherratt, who can play in either centre midfield, left wing or left back made it through both stages and was now fully aware of the talent that was in the competition.
“The standard of players in the tournament was very high and there were some very talented individuals which I could see after the first and second stage,” added the Stoke-on-Trent born youngster.
“But I just told myself to keep playing my natural game, to believe in my own ability and to take each stage as it comes.
“This was another opportunity for me to reach my dream so I didn’t want to let myself down. I needed to give it my all.”
The competition continued to reduce the number of entrants and after the third stage only 11 players remained, who were then tasked to play against a Leyton Orient side at their Brisbane Road home.
Up until this point Sherratt wasn’t thinking about winning the Pro Contact but when the competition reached the fourth stage, his mindset changed.
“When I got selected down to the final 11 players in the competition it hit me,” he said.
“At that point I knew that I wasn’t too far away from winning one of those contracts and kept telling myself that I’ve just got to keep playing as I had been, to work as hard as I can and give it my best shot.
“For the fifth and final stage three players were selected from the previous 11 and it consisted of a week’s training at Leyton Orient and Swindon Town.”
“It felt like a dream when we trained with the first team, playing with professional footballers was a great experience.”
With the competition at an end, all Sherratt could do was wait for the results as Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade and the then Swindon Town boss Paolo Di Canio made their decision.
After weeks of waiting he was finally given the news, and it proved to be well worth the wait.
“We were given an envelope, which we had to open in front of the Sky TV camera crew whilst sitting with my family,” he added.
“When I found out that I had been chosen as a winner by Russell Slade I was over the moon. To find out that I had reached my dream was the best feeling ever, words couldn’t describe how I felt. I just wanted to start the contract straight away.”
And Sherratt is determined to seize the opportunity he has been given, this year and beyond.
He said: “Now that I have been given a professional contract I am going to give this chance everything and take the opportunity with both hands.
“I want to make sure I stay a professional footballer for years to come, as I have worked all my life towards it.
“During my time at Leyton Orient this year I want to improve my game with help from the management and coaching staff. I hope I will be playing first team football regularly.”
Only time will tell if Jack Sherratt makes it as a professional footballer but one thing is for sure, the year that now lies ahead of him will go a long way to determining his future in football.