Exciting young footballer Jordan Forrester is trying his luck Stateside after winning a prized scholarship at an American university.
The 19-year-old jets off to the USA on August 10 to begin a four-year scholarship at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he hopes to put a luckless few years behind him.
The lightning-quick winger will divide his time between playing time for the Dukes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Soccer Conference and studying for a degree in finance.
The college soccer system has some impressive success stories including USA internationals Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel, both of whom enjoyed long careers in the English top flight.
The scholarship is worth $500,000, but for that price, the universities also demand capability in the classroom as well as athletic excellence.
Forrester said: “I have two options. Either I progress into football in the MLS (Major League Soccer) or maybe somewhere else.
“Or in the worst case scenario I get a degree under my belt at a top university in America which is not the worst thing in the world.
“There is a lot of money being pumped into US football because they did so well in the World Cup so it’s a good time for me to go.”
The MLS is among the fastest-growing leagues in world football with many international stars including Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard this season joining established players such as World Cup winners David Villa and Kaka.
And with David Beckham’s growing involvement in the American game, Forrester believes young European talent will soon be lured across the Atlantic to supplement the ageing stars.
“There is going to be a time in the next two or three years when something major is going to happen in American soccer,” he added.
“I feel like I’m going just as things are about to kick off over there.”
Forrester played youth football for Mowbray Rangers and Melton Foxes before choosing Coventry City’s academy over his beloved Leicester City at the age of 12.
The former John Ferneley College pupil was regarded as one of the brightest prospects at Coventry City academy where he spent six seasons.
But two badly-timed injuries in his make-or-break final academy year robbed him of the chance of a professional contract at the League One club.
After half-a-season playing senior football in Sweden’s second tier, Forrester heard about the new opportunity through the PASS4Soccer Scholarship network.
He joined scores of other young hopefuls, turned away from English professional clubs, at a PASS4Soccer trial day at Bisham Abbey.
Freed from the rigid shackles and structure of English club football, Forrester grabbed his chance to shine.
He produced a stunning solo effort, dribbling from within his own half all the way into the opposing penalty area to score a sensational goal.
“We were playing in front of 50 coaches from America and there was so much tension in the air because everyone was trying to impress,” he said.
“The trial was every man for himself and gave me a chance to show off a little bit.
“Everyone played in two games and then they read out a list of names of players to stay behind and talk to the coaches.
“I was the last one to be kept behind because I had the most coaches wanting to talk to me which was great.
“The MLS has a draft system through the colleges so I could go over there in August and if everything went perfectly, I could, in theory, be put into the draft by December.
“It could be in six months, a year’s time or two years’ time, it all depends on how well I do.”