Fiat Professional launches campaign to give one talented tradesman a shot at becoming a professional footballer.
Have you tried to have a conversation about football over the last 10 years without mentioning the astronomical transfer fees and ridiculous wages paid by big clubs on star players from around the globe? With so much money spent on tying up youngsters to academy systems from their early teens, it would seem almost impossible for amateur and semi-professional players, who have a trade under their belt, to make it to the big time any more.
Fear not, the romance of football isn’t completely dead, and if Leicester City’s exploits in the Premier League this year are anything to go by, the ‘funny old game’ has plenty of surprises still in store.
Back in April, Fiat Professional, official partner of The Football League, launched the Fiat Professional Tradesman Trials, a nation-wide search to find a current tradesman who has the talent to make it as a professional footballer in The Football League.
The move from the trades to professional football is a well-trodden path. There is a long list of past and present players starting out as tradesmen including current Southampton striker and ex-Burnley and Queens Park Rangers striker, Charlie Austin who was a builder and former Wigan midﬁelder, Jimmy Bullard who worked for his father’s painting and decorating company before he hit the big time.
Tradesmen who think they’ve got what it takes to win the one-month trial at a Football League club have until 12th June to showcase their skills by submitting videos of their footballing talent to www.tradesmantrials.co.uk.
The best entries will then be invited to attend an exclusive Tradesman Trials day, in association with The Football League that will take place by the end of June, where they will be put through their paces in front of a selection of scouts and Fiat Professional’s football ambassadors. The winner will then select his preferred club from those signed up to the campaign and receive a £2,000 prize.
Still got it?
Former tradesmen turned professional footballers, Stuart Pearce (electrician), Dean Windass (hod carrier) and Geoff Horsﬁeld (builder) kick-started the campaign by taking part in a Tradesman Challenge to see if they have still got their tradesman skills.
The series of challenges included plastering, painting and wallpapering, re-wiring a plug and building a brick wall. Ex-referee Dermot Gallagher was on hand to keep everyone in check throughout, while comedian Ian Smith provided commentary on the players’ efforts.
Pearce started his career as an electrician and continued to trade until the age of 25 alongside his professional football duties while Dean Windass was a hod carrier on a building site in Hull for 18 months.
Horsﬁeld worked as a builder before he signed professional terms and has since returned to the building trade full-time. The Geoff Horsﬁeld Foundation was set up earlier this year to help accommodate vulnerable people with mental health issues in Birmingham. Horsﬁeld and the foundation renovate properties and provide ongoing support to help them get back on their feet.
Pearce comments: “When I ﬁrst moved to Nottingham Forest from Coventry I advertised in the match day programme to get some extra income. I eventually stopped trading but Brian Clough never stopped bringing in his broken irons, toasters and kettles into the training ground for me to rewire!”
Andrea Patti, Fiat Professional Marketing Manager said: “Fiat Professional has a proud history of working closely with tradesmen and satisfying their varying needs in terms of mobility and transport. We know that a large percentage of them are football fans and we are proud to be a partner of The Football League.
“Our aim is to ﬁnd the next big name who has the footballing ability, but just hasn’t had the right opportunity. We look forward to seeing the entries come through and the winner crowned at the end of June ready for what I am sure will be an incredible experience during the one-month trial.”
“Our aim is to ﬁnd the next big name who has the footballing ability, but just hasn’t had the right opportunity.”
For tradesmen who don’t think they have what it takes to make it in professional football, Fiat Professional is also running a competition to win a Fiat Professional van for two years. The winner will be able to choose from any model in the current Fiat Professional range including the Ducato, Doblo’ and the brand new Talento, Fiorino and Fullback pick-up launching in June. This prize also includes servicing and maintenance.