Telford teenage footballer heading over to United States
A teenager from Telford is heading across the pond in a bid to fulfil his ambition of becoming a professional footballer.
Tom Edge, aged 18, from Muxton, has secured a four-year scholarship at Campbellsville University, Kentucky – and will fly out to America in early August.
The former AFC Telford United and Market Drayton Town youngster will combine doing a degree in sports management with playing for the university's soccer team, Campbellsville Tigers.
His proud father, Andy Edge said: "He's got to fly out there on August 3, and their first game is at the end of August.
"He is going to be doing a degree in sports management, which is what he was looking at doing anyway over here.
"It's a full-scholarship, so a four-year degree. And the aim is that he will be playing football for them, for the duration of the course.
"They take it really seriously out there. We take it seriously here, but over there the facilities are first class.
"He'll be getting a good education, while playing football for a side that has the facilities of a proper club – so it should work out really well on both sides."
Tom, who moved to Muxton three and a half years ago from Perton, recently completed his sixth form studies at Codsall Community High School.
There he combined his studies with playing regular football for the school's team and as part of the two-year course, he went out to America to play in a tournament.
A player who prefers to play as a central midfielder but is also comfortable as a full-back, it was there he caught eye the eye of US scouts and, after also seeing video footage of Tom in action, Campbellsville opted to offer him a full scholarship, meaning tuition is covered.
As well as playing for Codsall, he started off last season with AFC Telford's first team – after impressing in their youth ranks.
He featured in a friendly against Aston Villa, and players such as Ghana international Jordan Ayew, before spending most of the campaign on loan at Market Drayton in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier First Division South – step four of non-league.
"It has been really good for him to get experience in competitive, mens football," said Andy.
"He got released from Walsall when he was 14, but his commitment and dedication to football has never wavered. He really wants to be a footballer, and be successful.
"He got a trial at Shrewsbury but he was carrying an injury at the time so he didn't show his best, and then he got involved with Stoke's development side.
"Then we moved to Telford and he got into AFC Telford's under-16s. He played for them, and then captained the under-18s and then got involved with the first team, and figured in every friendly for them last summer.
"They decided to put him out on loan to Market Drayton, and it did him the world of good.
"He has loved it. He would have liked to try and impress at Telford this upcoming season and try to fight for a place, but this was too good an opportunity to turn down."
Tom is making a bold move, no doubt, but going over to America has proved very fruitful for many in the past – especially over the last decade.
Dom Dwyer, born in Cuckfield in Sussex, played for Norwich City, Staines Town and King's Lynn as a youngster– and decided to move over to America in 2009, playing soccer at Tyler Junior College in Texas.
He then went to South Florida Bulls and is became a huge star in Major League Soccer as Sporting Kansas City's main striker for several years.
Dwyer won the MLS Cup with them in 2013 and has just moved to Orlando City in an MLS record deal which could reach $1.6million.
Now an American citizen, he has recently received his first call-up for the United States too.
Another example is Eddie Jones, who played for AFC Telford last season. The midfielder played for Major League Soccer side DC United’s U23s, and went on to captain the University of Dayton soccer team.
He then played in the North American Soccer League – for Canadian sides Ottawa Fury and FC London – before short stints at Evergreen Diplomats and IFK Maryland in the American Soccer League.
The 25-year-old returned to England last year and, while not a full-time footballer, is still playing at a high standard. He has been offered a new deal at Telford amid interest from other clubs.
Andy believes going out to America gives Tom the best chance of making a living as a footballer/soccer player, and added: "Any kid's dream is to be a professional footballer, and hopefully he will come back in four years as a very well-rounded player – ready to make a real impression somewhere.
"At 18, the coaches think he's strong enough to compete in an under-23s side. He'll start as a freshman, and should for the whole four years be in that team. He is really excited and we are very proud of him."