SPARSHOLT College are celebrating after Saints signed their Football Academy student Isaac Nehemie.
The 17-year-old old left-sided player has signed a full-time scholarship arrangement at Saints which will keep him at St Mary’s until the end of the 2013/14 season.
Nehemie has been given a second chance of making it in the professional game after being released by Crystal Palace last summer.
He was taken on by Sparsholt, based north of Winchester, and enrolled into their academy programme which combines playing football with academic studies.
Nehemie first came to Saints’ attention last autumn and was invited to the Premier League club to take part in training and matches against Sunderland, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Neil Benson, Sparsholt’s football academy manager, is delighted at how the college have helped Nehemie back into the professional game so quickly.
“We are absolutely delighted that a member of our squad has made this huge step to a club of the premiership stature of Southampton FC,” Benson remarked.
"It is a great reward for the hard work that Isaac has put in and not least the professional efforts of all the Sparsholt staff concerned, on and off the training pitches.
“The team from Southampton including Matt Crocker, the academy manager, Jason Dodd, the under-18s’ coach, and Rod Ruddick, head of recruitment, have all been so welcoming and professional as we have liaised over Isaac’s trial and subsequent signing.”
Benson, who spent several years with the Saints Academy more than a decade ago, is now hopeful Sparsholt can go on to foster even closer links with his former employers.
“We have a good relationship with Saints which we would like to nurture a bit more,” he explained.
“I recently spoke with Matt Crocker about how we could work closer together.
“If Southampton are interested in any more of our players, that would be great.
“But we are always being contacted by other professional clubs as well, and would never stand in anyone’s way if any club, not just Southampton, wanted to sign any of our players full-time.”
Sparsholt’s next football academy trial and open day is Tuesday, February 19.
The day is intended for “players with a high standard of skill and looking to develop their potential whilst working towards a national sporting qualification at college.”
For further information, contact Benson on either firstname.lastname@example.org or 07860 150075.