LANCASTER City striker Joe Bunney has described being part of sportswear giant Nike’s global talent search as “unreal”.
The 18-year-old Myerscough College student was the first man to be selected for The Chance by Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and last week vied for a spot in the global finals.
Of 100 that started last Thursday, June 28, Bunney made the final 28 of the UK round after four days of gruelling trials but missed out on being selected as one of the three players to move on to the next stage in Barcelona.
The England Schoolboys international said: “I’m disappointed not to have got through but it was a great experience and the intensity was the same as being a professional.
“It was unreal getting advice from Rio (who turned up on the final day) and all the coaches who were there.
“They told me to keep going as I had bags of ability.”
The sessions and 11-a-side games were overseen by some of the country’s top coaches including Arsenal first team coach Neil Banfield and Tottenham Hotspur coach Matt Wells.
Chance UK ambassador Ferdinand, who selected Bunney after an unannounced visit to Myerscough College as part of the UK launch of the competition, also had a hand in picking the winners who were announced on Sunday after the remaining players had watched the Euro 2012 final at the Nike Players lounge in Manchester City centre.
The first three days took place at Salford City stadium before moving onto Manchester United’s Carrington training complex where Ferdinand stopped by to talk to the players involved in the final 90-minute game, played in three 30-minute parts.
Bunney now says he is looking forward to having a short break, before getting ready for the new season with the Dolly Blues.
He said: “I’m going to take some time off now.
“I only finished college last week and went straight into The Chance so I’m going to take a break meaning I’ll miss the games against Dundee and Stockport.
“I don’t think the changes will affect us too much but Tony Hesketh stepping aside will be a big miss.
“I can certainly see us pushing for the play-offs again.”
At the finals in Barcelona, a 16-man squad will be selected for a Nike Academy team, which will travel around the world and train with the world’s best professional teams, as well as competing against the most prestigious academy sides from across the world.
When he originally selected Bunney, Ferdinand said: “Joe instantly caught my eye, he’s a mobile and technically proficient player but it was his attitude that impressed me as much as anything.”