Duo in the running for deal with professional clubs

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TWO young amateur footballers, who are on the books of local side Hucknall Town AFC, are dreaming of landing contracts with professional clubs — thanks to a nationwide competition.

Nineteen-year-old Clifford Butau and 21-year-old Danny Marshall both play for AFC, who have just recorded their first win of the season in the South Division of the Central Midlands League (SEE PAGE 39).

But Marshall and Clifford have both got their eyes on a bigger prize after throwing their hats into the ring for Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract initiative.

For they have both been shortlisted to take part in the competition and waiting for the winner is a deal with either Swindon Town or Leyton Orient in League One.

More than 5,000 players from all over the country entered Win A Pro Contract — and Butau and Marshall are already through to skills-testing sessions.

A former Academy player with MK Dons, Butau is currently studying at Manchester University so struggles to get back to the Dispatch district to play for AFC, who are based at Hucknall Town’s Watnall Road ground.

Butau is reported as saying: “One of my friends entered the competition and told me all about it. It looked great so I applied straight away. I’m a fast player with bundles of energy and a good crosser of the ball. Hopefully I can show the coaches my skills.

“I dream of playing professionally. I will try my hardest to come away with one of those contracts.”


Another Nottingham player selected alongside the AFC duo is 21-year-old George Wilkinson.

Former Notts County boss Russell Slade, who is manager at Orient, said: “Becoming a professional footballer is a demanding process. This competition will be very tough in terms of fitness, as well as skill.”

Football trials specialists FootballCV, who are responsible for selection and scouting in the early stages of the competition, picked 360 aspiring players for the first round of trials — a mixture of skills tests and small-sided matches.

They will now assess all of the players they’ve seen in action, picking the top 88 to make it through to the Quarter-Final stage. This will consist of four 90-minute, 11-a-side matches played at non-league grounds later this month.