TEENAGE soccer ace Charlie Fayers is realising his dreams after signing as a professional footballer for AFC Wimbledon.
The 18-year-old from Upper South Road, St Leonards has made the bench three times this month and is close to make his senior debut for the League Two club.
He follows a proud line of former William Parker schoolboys who became professional footballers including Gareth Barry, Steve Cook and Dean Hammond.
A former Hastings Ranger junior player, Charlie joined Brighton’s & Hove Albion’s youth academy aged 11.
He played for five years before being released in 2011. He had a number of trials at clubs including Aldershot before the Dons snapped him up.
The Kingston-based club offered an apprenticeship for two years and he completed a BTEC level three diploma in Sport.
In the summer manager Neal Ardley handed the talented teenager a contract.
He now wears the number 31 shirt and is counting the days before he makes his dream debut.
Charlie, who plays mainly in defence, is hoping to be on the team bus which travels to from the Kingsmeadow Stadium for Cheltenham tomorrow.
During the week Charlie lives with his grandmother in East Dulwich but after the games on Saturday likes to come home to St Leonards for his tea.
His mother Sheila Luttman said: “He has alwayss dreamed of this but it has been a massive learning curve for him.
“He was living away from home at 16 so he grew up really quick. He went through the trial process and proved his worth.
“It is not the glamorous lifestyle that everyone imagines as he has to use the train at the moment.
“We are so proud of him and can’t wait to watch him come on the pitch.
“He has proved that if you work really hard and want something bad enough you can get it. He is a shining example to all the kids in Hastings.”
Charlie was one of four apprentices offered pro terms. Speaking about the signings, Ardley told the afcwimbledon.co.uk website:
“From my experiences of working with young players I know that between the age of 18 and 21 they have got huge potential to grow and fill-out, become more dynamic and turn into men. We need to slowly, but surely, give them that opportunity. Technically, they are all very good players, but there is a physical development that needs to be made with a few of them. We need to speed that up while giving them a chance to become the players we know they can. They are all very talented players, but the key word is ‘potential’ and we have to give it our best to unlock that potential.”
Once famously nicknamed the Crazy Gang by BBC commentator John Motson after winning the 1988 FA Cup, the club started in 2002 after the original club moved to Milton Keynes Dons.