The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

MID­WAY through the sec­ond half of Bur­ton’s vic­tory over Southend yes­ter­day, some joker de­cided to make merry with match-win­ner Adam McGurk’s Wikipedia en­try.

“Adam was im­pres­sive for Barcelona re­serves in the 2006-07 sea­son, mak­ing seven ap­pear­ances and scor­ing four goals,” said the bio, clearly writ­ten by a smit­ten Bur­ton fan.

Set­ting aside the fact he would have been just 17,one jour­nal­ist asked Bur­ton man­ager Gary Rowett if McGurk had ac­tu­ally graced the Nou Camp.

“Yeah,” said the for­mer Derby man. “In his dreams. He went on hol­i­day to Spain once, maybe played for Barcelona United!”

Rowett’s right of course. McGurk isn’t go­ing to be in the Cham­pi­ons League any time soon. But af­ter be­ing canned by As­ton Villa fol­low­ing a se­ri­ous knee in­jury and sub­se­quently re­tir­ing from foot­ball aged just 21, play­ing at Wem­b­ley is no less mon­u­men­tal an achieve­ment.

When you’ve spent your young life out­class­ing your peers and been tipped for star­dom be­fore you’ve even sat a GCSE, sud­denly be­ing on the scrapheap must feel like Ar­maged­don. Plenty of play­ers drift away. But like Char­lie Austin and An­toni Sarce­vic – other Foot­ball League dropouts who will play at Wem­b­ley next weekend – the best find a way back.

It isn’t al­ways glam­orous. McGurk slogged away at Hed­nes­ford, Sarce­vic at Ch­ester and Austin way down with the likes of Poole Town. But they never gave up, trust­ing purely on their talent to at­tract at­ten­tion. Right now, thou­sands of teenagers are fac­ing up to the mis­ery of be­ing told they won’t be of­fered a pro­fes­sional deal.

For all of them, the achieve­ments of McGurk, Sarce­vic and Austin show that sec­ond chances do ex­ist.

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