A TEENAGER from Henley is on the verge of winning a professional football contract.
Liam Painter, 17, is through to the final 22 competitors in Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition.
He will be playing in a match on January 12 for one of the three contracts available at Football League clubs Leyton Orient, Swindon Town and Wycombe Wanderers.
Painter, of Gainsborough Crescent, said: “I’m absolutely chuffed. In the past I’ve had disappointments so it’s something to look forward to and work towards.”
The striker, who plays for Thatcham Town’s junior and senior sides, was one of 5,700 players to enter the competition and took part in regional trials in Isleworth in October.
He then played in an 11-a-side match at Wycombe’s Adams Park earlier this month. He knew he had played well but didn’t know what to expect.
“It was nice playing at Adams Park,” he said. “It’s the sixth biggest pitch in England and it was quite a good experience playing in front of a couple of hundred people.
“I thought I had played well, scoring a couple of goals, getting an assist and had a goal disallowed as well. I definitely did myself justice as it was one of the better games I’ve played in a while.
“I was always optimistic but at the same time unsure. You never know what’s going to happen because there were still two matches to be played.”
On Wednesday last week, Painter was told he would be filmed by Sky Sports for a television feature as he received a phone call from a Samsung representative to tell him whether he was through to the final.
He said: “That was quite nerve-wracking. I was apprehensive because if I didn’t get through I would still be on camera but I found out I had.”
Painter will now play in another 11-a-side game at Swindon Town’s County Ground in front of the clubs’ managers and coaches as well as scouts.
He said: “I’m not too nervous now but I probably will be closer to the time.
“I will be playing a lot of football over Christmas — too much to be honest because I’ve got six or seven games before January 12. I will have to make sure I don’t injure myself.
“All I can do is my best but I will be putting in more preparation and work on some things I can improve on.”