Promising young footballer Harvey Rhoades will take his dream of becoming a professional footballer when he grows up a step nearer next month as he signs a junior contract with Premier League club Aston Villa.
The eight year old Rokeby Junior School pupil will then be mixing with other boys who have passed the stringent selection process, travelling to Bodymoor Heath for training two to three times a week.
According to dad Marc, his son’s footballing career didn’t have the most promising of starts. “We took him to the Admirals team in Rugby and originally he didn’t like it. But when he went back after Christmas the break had done him the world of good and there was no looking back.”
It was while playing in an annual Rugby Town tournament that Harvey was first spotted by a West Bromwich Albion scout. This led to a six week trial at the WBA academy but, at this point, the club decided to release him and not take things further.
Coventry City then expressed an interest in Harvey’s footballing talents and he linked up with them for a year.
To guarantee that he would get more playing opportunities, he switched clubs, moving to Mount Nod in Coventry and the eventual offer to sign a contract with Aston Villa followed on shortly after.
In the process of taking these initial steps towards his football goal, Harvey has had some very encouraging signs.
“He travelled to Old Trafford to be assessed by Manchester United the other week,” said Marc, “and he was graded at an ‘A’ which means a hot prospect. He played at their training ground and was not out of his depth at all. If we lived nearby he could have signed with them.”
Thrilled though he was to receive such high praise, it was a big dilemma for the young player when he was required to wear a Man U shirt – as he is an avid Liverpool fan.
When this season concludes Harvey will make his move from Mount Nod to the Aston Villa junior academy. There he will come in contact with first team players on a regular basis. In fact striker Darren Bent’s son trains with the under sevens.
But first is the big day itself, when he will attend a home game, trot onto the pitch and then sign that all important contract – initially for 12 months.
His parents, Marc and Claire are, however, making sure he has his priorities right. “He is bright at school,” said Marc, “ and he knows that has to come first.”