Newham’s Calvin Ughelumba has made most of Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph
PUBLISHED: 09:30 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:50 02 February 2017
Former Rokeby pupil has enjoyed a meteoric rise over last 18 months and scored in both the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League
When Leicester City clinched the Premier League title at the start of May, very few people at the time would have wondered how it might impact the life of a former Rokeby pupil – but Calvin Ughelumba has certainly made the most of the Foxes’ shock triumph.
The talented defender, just 17, has been on the books of the champions since the autumn of 2015 and witnessed a great deal.
Leicester’s stunning achievement has enabled him to travel all over Europe this season and feature in the UEFA Youth League, but the Forest Gate teenager was very close to giving up on football.
Ughelumba said: “It was the summer and I was going into year 11, which was a vital year because I had my exams. If I wasn’t at a club before I started school I was just going to focus on my studies mainly and not really play football.
“But one of my mates saw this training programme and told me about it and basically the guy sends people to clubs. I thought about it and I was like ‘I might as well go, why not?’ and this was in the summer of 2015 during pre-season.”
CrownPro Elite Football Academy arranged trials with Barnet and Wolverhampton Wanderers and the former Newham district player demonstrated his potential.
Wolves were keen for Ughelumba to stay longer than was originally planned, but then the chance to visit Leicester arose.
The left-back made the trip up the M1 and it didn’t take him long to be offered a contract at the Premier League club.
“I came up to Leicester on the Tuesday for a game and got invited back on the Thursday and Friday to train with the under-18 group,” said Ughelumba, who has been excellently supported by Capstone Sports Management.
“I trained with them and did all right and got offered a deal on the following Tuesday, which was the day I was meant to start year 11. It was all quick, but it was good.”
And it is safe to say it has been a whirlwind for the former Colegrave Primary School pupil since joining the Foxes.
Ughelumba was able to witness, as part of the academy, how Leicester kept on shocking Premier League clubs before they put themselves in pole position to claim the title.
He said: “It was amazing and just unreal. I think it has helped show football fans you don’t always have to be the richest or most talented to win things. You can do it with pure hard work and determination.”
Leicester’s triumph allowed their fans to travel across Europe in the Champions League and it offered Ughelumba a chance to test himself against the best in his age group.
The full-back was an integral part of the Foxes team which competed in the UEFA Youth League and even scored during their 3-2 home defeat to Club Brugge, but they finished bottom of Group G with three points.
“It was a great experience to play against different clubs from other countries and going all over Europe was brilliant,” said Ughelumba.
“To be honest it has happened so quickly. I came into full-time football with the under-19s and I wasn’t expecting to travel and play with them. It’s been good to see parts of the world and the different playing styles and the way they coach compared to here in England.”
The aim for Ughelumba and Leicester now is to try and win the FA Youth Cup with a fifth-round tie at Middlesbrough taking place on Friday (February 3).
Having scored in a 2-1 win over Carlisle United in the previous round two weeks ago, the defender is determined to get his hands on some silverware this season.
Ughelumba added: “Our aim is to get further up the table and have a good run in the FA Youth Cup. We want to keep going in that because anything can happen, so hopefully we can try and win it.
“Personally my aim is to try and be with the Leicester first team eventually. Once I’m there, hopefully I can keep my position.”
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