A Tunstall teenager has signed a two-year scholarship with Middlesbrough FC.
Josh Coburn, 16-year-old student at Richmond School, was scouted while playing at Darlington, and was invited to go to Middlesbrough for a six-week trial over the summer holidays.
Josh was offered the scholarsip after playing with the Middlesbrough Academy team.
The two-year scholarship kicks off after Josh’s GCSEs.
Josh will have the opportunity to do a BTEC course alongside playing football which will allow him to secure enough points to give him the option to further his education at university.
However, Josh’s ambition is to achieve a professional contract.
He said: “I am very, very happy about being selected by Middlesbrough.
I’ve been following the Boro for some time so it’s a dream come true to be part of the under-18 squad.
“I’ve already scored ten goals so far this season, and I’m really pleased with my performance to date.
“My aim is to be selected as a professional player for the Middlesbrough first team in 2020.”
The scholarship programme will be demanding, daily from 9am until 4pm, with matches each Saturday.
Josh presently trains two hours, three nights per week at Rockliffe, with matches every Saturday.
The matches are all over the country and Josh has travelled to Swansea and Wolves since starting to play at Middlesbrough.
Josh also travelled to Lithuania recently, with the first year scholars, and the team won the tournament with Josh scoring a header in the semi-finals.
Craig Liddle, academy manager at Middlesbrough Football Club, said: “Since Josh arrived at the academy he has shown tremendous drive and enthusiasm, matched only by his hard work on and desire to achieve a scholarship.
“That hard work has now paid off and Josh has been given a tremendous opportunity to develop a potential career as a professional footballer.
“There will be high and low points during Josh’s scholarship, however if he maintains his current work ethic and continues to improve, Josh will give himself every opportunity to succeed.”
Josh will continue to play for Richmond School until he leaves, following his GCSEs in the summer.
Tom Westgate, Josh’s PE teacher, who has coached Josh since he was 11-years-old, said: “Josh has been a huge asset to Richmond School and has been excellent leading the football team over the last five years.
“He has grown massively as a player, both physically and mentally, over his time here.
“His confidence and attitude are exemplary and he thoroughly deserves the chance to play at such a high level.”