After training at the Mark McCarrick Soccer School in Lagos for three years, unmissable potential was spotted in British Algarve resident Willow Shah-Neville, who has just completed trials at top clubs Leicester City, Birmingham City and Everton with success.
The 14-year-old travelled to England between April 16 and 21, after her coach, ex-professional footballer Mark McCarrick, arranged trials to test the skills and ability of the aspiring footballer.
Mark told the Algarve Resident: “Willow has fantastic football ability. She always gives 100% in training and is eager to listen and learn. Over the years that I have coached Willow, her technique and football has improved remarkably.
“As a football coach, I am always aware and alert to young football talent. Willow was the perfect candidate for football trials with English clubs and as an ex-professional footballer myself, I know what qualities football clubs are looking for.
“It’s not just about having great football skills. A player much have discipline, ability to read the game, confidence, self belief, be a team player and always willing to improve. Willow processes all of these qualities.”
Presented with the opportunity to test her abilities against some of the best girl football players of her age group in the UK, Willow said: “I was really nervous but excited at the same time. I was really impressed with the standard of girls football in England and it was cool to see about 50 women all playing football at the same time.
“I really liked the girls at Leicester City. They all played together as a team and they made me feel very welcome.
“When we had a game against The Bristol Academy, I was more scared than I had ever been and I didn’t want to play, but when I went on, I soon settled down and it ended up being the best game I have ever played in. We beat them 6-2.”
In completion of her trials, all clubs gave Willow an open invitation to come back and train with them and that they would not hesitate to sign her if she decided to move back to the UK.
Academy coach of Everton FC youth academy, John Fenton, said: “Willow was physically strong and technically good. I found her to be a very focused and determined player who has obviously been well coached. I look forward to working with her in the future.”
Willow is the first girl from the Soccer School that has been sent back to England for trials.
“Girls football has become more and more popular over the last 10 years. I encourage any girls who have the passion for football to join in and get involved. Players of all abilities are welcome,” concluded Mark.
In addition to Willow, several boys from the Soccer School have also had trials with Benfica.
For more information, please contact Mark on 964 422 588 or visit www.markmccarricksoccerschools.com