A 26-year-old factory worker from Leicester has become the first player to graduate from Jamie Vardy’s non-league academy and earn a professional contract. Danny Newton, who scored 34 goals for Tamworth last season, has signed for Stevenage after convincing the League Two club he deserves an opportunity in the Football League.
Newton was among a clutch of players to catch the eye during Vardy’s five-day residential course this month and now has a chance to follow in the England international’s footsteps by quitting his day job for a crack at the professional game for the first time in his career. The striker, who had been playing in the Conference North, was out of contract at the end of last season.
Vardy, who also worked in a factory and was only a year younger than Newton when he turned professional, said he was thrilled Stevenage had decided to give Newton a break.
“When John Morris, my agent [and the V9 academy co-founder] told me that Danny had received an offer from Stevenage I was buzzing,” the Leicester City forward said. “He was one of the first players that we recruited to the academy and he seems to have had a similar journey to myself.”
Five other non-league footballers have been invited to pre-season training with professional clubs this summer on the back of their performances at Vardy’s academy, which was staged at Manchester City’s Etihad Campus and attended by 42 players and more than 60 scouts. “The academy has proved that there are league players within the non-leagues,” Morris said. “Danny is a great example that it is never too late to fulfil your dream of being a professional footballer.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010