Palma.— The 19-year-old right- footed midfielder, born to British parents in Palma, was earlier this year offered a sports scholarship to one of the United States’ most prestigious universities, Lake Tahoe in California, after his soccer skills impressed First Point U.S.A scouts during trials organised by the North American sports management and scholarships company.
"I was invited to take part in several football trials organised by First Point in Glasgow and Sheffield and at some point I must have impressed them because when it came to the interview they just told me ‘listen John, we don’t even want to look at your school grades and papers. Your skills on the pitch are enough’," John said.
And just like that, John’s dream of becoming a professional footballer were given a major boost.
He was offered a four year scholarship including tuition fees, books, food, accommodation, sports gear, track suits and transport, leaving John and his family with the task of coming up with 12,000 euros to complete his college fees. A large sum (his father has been trying to raise as much as possible to make his son’s dream come true but is still looking for all the help he can get) but significantly less than trying to continue his studies in the UK.
"I studied sports psychology and sports exercise for two years in England in Doncaster but this opportunity to proceed my studies in the U.S.A has really come in handy.
"First, the tuition fees in the UK could have easily reached £40,000 and secondly, this will also give me the opportunity to combine two things I like. I love football but I’m going to study Spanish Literature as you need something to fall back on in case things don’t work out," John adds.
A feeling shared by John’s father, himself also called John Connor. John senior, who owns a shop in Cala Bona, said the family is very proud and looking forward to this new chapter in his son’s career.
"I’m very proud of him. He’s a good lad.
"He’s going to California on his own but we are hoping to go and see him there a few times. This is a good opportunity for him and besides, what else is he going to do here in Majorca in the winter? There is little here for kids during that time," he explains.
John (son) tells the Bulletin that at a point in his youth career he was invited for a trial with Celtic Glasgow, his father’s club, but even though the opportunity of making his father even happier crossed his mind, playing in Scotland was not so appealing for him.
"I had trials with Motherwell and with Doncaster Rovers and even Celtic. I actually couldn’t make it to that one because I got injured three days before the trial but even if I had of gone I’m not sure what the next step would have been. I mean, I would like to play for Celtic but the Scottish league is just not strong enough.
"Even though my parents are British I feel Spanish and my style of play would be better suited in other leagues. If I had to describe myself as a player I would say I have good vision, strong positioning and I’m able to read the game well. A true number eight although I wear a different shirt number. My first touch is also good.
"I have to say that for me the Premier League is the best league in the World but the Spanish League has the best teams. If I had to single out a team from the two leagues I would say Arsenal’s style would suit me better."
With the World Cup in Brazil around the corner and his declared love for the Spanish National Team (the house is set to be divided during the tournament) it was almost impossible not to touch the subject and according to the young star, England will suffer and Spain will succeed.
"England, no chance. They will most likely be knocked out in the group stages. I can’t see them get anything from the matches against Italy and Uruguay. As of Spain I think they will go all the way and win it. If Diego Costa (striker from Atletico Madrid) stays fit they will win it." But while many people around the world are getting ready to follow one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, John and his family will be preparing the final details before his departure to the U.S.
Major Soccer League
"If everything goes well I should be in California at the start of August. Perhaps I’ll go a few days earlier to settle in and get used to everything. But the University Team has its first match on 27 August and lessons start in September so it’s a good time to go."
"You know, I was offered quite a few scholarships, including two from New York and one from Tennessee but California was always my first option. They speak Spanish which is better for me, and during the trials I met this guy from Northern Ireland and he also got a scholarship so I’ll have a friend there. "I’m really looking forward to this. The university’s coach is one of the top ones in the country and under his guidance I could well be drafted to play in the major Soccer League. The money invested in university sports in the U.S is immense so this is a big chance for me," John adds.
What a shame our local team Real Mallorca didn’t take a closer look at you John, but the Bulletin team wishes you the best of luck!