A PLAYER on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Bronze Tour has a burning ambition to “get across the road”.
It may be just a shot stroll across Chelsea’s training facility to where the first team are put through their paces but for Luke McCormick (pictured) it would be a giant step and a path to untold riches as a Premier League footballer.
The 16-year-old from Portsmouth has been on the current Barclays Premier League champions’ books since the age of seven.
He was actually first spotted while playing for an under-six team against a Chelsea under-six side.
“I played as a striker at that age and scored and we won the game,” he recalled.
“I’m a Chelsea fan. I’ve always loved Chelsea. It was a dream come true.”
McCormick – who turned down advances from a whole host of other clubs including Portsmouth, Southampton, Watford, Fulham and Bournemouth – was officially signed at the youngest possible age of nine and is now enjoying a two-year paid scholarship.
That means he stays in digs during the week near the training facilities in Cobham, Surrey, only spends a couple of nights at home and hasn’t attended a conventional school since the age of 13 as Chelsea arranges lessons at the academy.
And he is paid!
“It’s a good amount,” he said. “It’s enough to keep you going. I don’t get carried away with the money, I just love my football.”
Now playing centre midfield, McCormick is part of the Chelsea side that is currently top of the southern section of the Barclays U18 Premier League.
But every year heart-broken youngsters who haven’t made the grade are shown the door – although some will be picked up by other clubs
“If they feel that you’re not good enough and haven’t got the potential to be a Chelsea player, then they’ll let you go,” explained McCormick.
“Every year, you’re fighting for your contract. The competition is very tough. You’ve just got to try to be the best you can be.”
Turning to his snooker, McCormick is based at Stoke Snooker Club, Gosport, and has a high break of 37. He made his Cuestars debut in January this year in Woking but has yet to qualify for a knockout.
“I enjoy my snooker, coming to Cuestars,” he said. “You can’t get hurt so (Chelsea) don’t mind.”
So, it must be exciting rubbing shoulders with the likes of John Terry and Diego Costa?
“We don’t really mix with the first team,” he said. “It’s quite a big facility and they train across the road.
“The aim is to get across the road.”
Report and picture by Tim Dunkley.