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The Rock-itt : December 2009
As promised in the last issue of Rock-itt we have the inside scoop from Lucas Neill Scholarship Award winner, Leigh Egger, on his trip to the UK which was the major part of his award. Leigh is sixteen, 17 next February and he journeyed up to the UK to train with three top grade English League clubs. I asked Leigh when he first met Lucas Neill after he arrived in the UK. Leigh flew into the UK, arriving in Manchester on Saturday 3rd October and then had to get himself across to Leeds which is about 35 miles away to book into his accommodation. The day after he caught a train from Leeds to Liverpool where Lucas and Darren, Lucas' agent picked him up from the station and took him to Goodison Park, Everton's home ground for the game against Stoke and Leigh watched the game from the players' lounge. Lucas was on the bench for the game which ended as a 1-1 draw and afterwards hooked up with Leigh in the players' lounge for a chat. Lucas left Goodison that night and went straight to the airport to fly down to Australia for the Oman game. Darren the agent then became to first point of contact for Leigh whilst he was in the UK. Leigh returned to Leeds, he was staying with a couple of Leeds junior players in his accommodation and on the Monday a Leeds club minibus arrived to take them to the training ground. I was very impressed at how Leigh had dealt with his introduction into the UK, having never been there before and given he is only 16, I think he dealt with a pretty daunting experience really well. The first days training he wasn't sure what he needed to take apart from his football boots. At Manly he would stick all his training clothes in a bag and hump it down to the ground. In the very professional set up of the UK League Clubs all his kit was set out and waiting for him when he arrived at the training ground. The training schedule was full on but Leigh thinks that it is probably the best life a football mad kid could ever have. Training schedules vary from club to club but there may be two, two hour training sessions a day with some additional gym work, a day off mid week where the boys go to college to continue their studies. He had been told that he would notice the increased pace of the UK game and this became a true realization from the first training session. He found himself training with 20 year olds on full playing contracts with already considerable experience, initially the situation was a bit of a shock but he adapted very quickly and really enjoyed the experience. On just his second night with Leeds he was put into the Under 17's team to play Hull City! The game was played in pouring rain on a very cold night but Leigh felt he did quite well. After Leeds Leigh moved on to West Ham and was due to play in the West Ham team away to Portsmouth. Unfortunately he missed the game because he had to get back up to Liverpool to hook up with Lucas who by this time was back from Australia. He watched the Aston Villa game with Lucas from the Everton Players lounge again. In his third week in the UK He played in the second half for an Everton team in the 13-0 thrashing of Stockport County! Bearing in mind that these teams, though junior teams, do have a regular squad and for a trialist to get a shot at playing in a competitive game is no mean feat. It still didn't stop Leigh being grumpy because he didn't play the first half as well! I asked him if he had played or trained with anyone who he thought might be an up and coming superstar. He said no, but the standard was really high and all the guys are desperate to be successful. Leigh found playing alongside groups of players who were all of a very high standard one of the highlights of his trip. He was 100% sure he wanted to be a professional footballer before he left for the UK, now in true pro football speak he's 110% that's what he wants! I'm certain he's going to fulfil his dreams. He's signed on for Manly United's Grade 20's next season but I expect the name of Leigh Egger to appear on many First Grade team sheets. Let's hope we keep him for a while yet. You can now follow Manly United on Twitter. Address ManlyUnited (no gap) email@example.com u if you have anything to add. From Cromer Park to Buckingham Palace! Leigh goes to see The Queeen! Leigh Egger between Ed O'Neill (Lucas's Dad) right and Manly Head Trainer Phil Moss the day his Lucas Neill Scholarship Award was announced.