SASoccer365's UK-based correspondent, Thapelo Moloantoa of Shibobo Football.com recently spoke to rising star Romano Patrick, who was part of the Engen Under 17 team which visited England.
The player is a striker on the travelling ENGEN Under 17 team who recently paid a visit to South East London's Charlton Athletic to meet South Africans Shawn Bartlett and Mark Fish.
Very eloquent and full of confidence, the 16-year-old striker is built in a short stocky frame reminiscent of Argentinas Diego Maradona (i.e. in his heyday) and Brazils Romario. He waxes lyrical about his love for the beautiful game, his goals and being part of the Under 17 tour team.
Thapelo: Can you please provide us with account of yourself and brief history about your involvement in football?
Romano: I am originally from Eersterus, Pretoria. I am based at the University of Port Elizabeth (UPE) School of Excellence whom I joined in 2001. Started playing football in 1987 playing for Pretorias oldest club Arcadia Shepherds.
I have been selected for several Inter-Provincial tournaments, one of which resulted in my selection for this ENGEN Under 17 team. I love football; football is life for me I live it everyday and I want to turn pro one day.
Thapelo: What is your impression of the trip so far? What have been the highlights and downsides?
Romano: Been able to attend the training sessions of such big clubs like Charlton Athletic and watch Shaun and Mark in action is definitely a highlight for me.
I have realised at this training session that the first touch is very important over here. The pace is so fast that if you dont get it right the first time then you will lose possession immediately.
We have also visited Chelseas Stamford Bridge, Arsenals Highbury Stadium and played against a team from Mexico plus Tuks Academy (University of Pretoria team playing in the Northern Island Milk Cup along with another junior team from South African Premiership side Jomo Cosmos) .
Tomorrow we are going to The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester. I am a fan of the The Reds Devils and it would have been a dream come true if I could meet Quinton Fortune but unfortunately he wont be there.
I'd like to thank sponsors ENGEN and PUMA for organising this tour. Now I'm going back home to work even harder on my game and hopefully I can get selected for more in the future and get spotted by a Premiership team.
The downsides I thought were going to be missing home but I guess I don't because I've been away from Pretoria for four years now and we are quite a good group of friends in the team here, you wouldn't say we met the other day.
Its summer over here now so its not cold like many people had told us, its actually much warmer than back home (pointing to a Shawn Bartlett jumping into a huge container filled with ice cold water after training).
Thapelo: Thanks for your time bro and hope you enjoy the rest of your tour.