HARD work and focus is paying off for a Northwich youngster who is progressing towards his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

Rudheath Senior Academy student Cameron Southam has teamed up with Stoke City Academy and settled in quickly, scoring two goals on his debut for the under 14s team against Aston Villa.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra are among the clubs to have shown interest in Cameron from five years old, having trials or spending spells with the various clubs as recently as this summer.

But Cameron, who was a prolific scorer as a junior with Northwich Victoria, decided on Stoke and signed a contract earlier this month.

“They’d been after him for a while and when he was going through all the other trials they still showed their card that they wanted him,” said his dad, Kenny.

“I’m quite friendly with the scouts and they kept ringing me saying they were really keen and that he’s more than welcome to go there.

“He’s gained a bit of experience with other clubs, developed and progressed into more of an academy player and so he hit the ground running in the trial with Stoke and that’s when he got his contract.

“He’s settled there. It’s a brilliant set-up, brilliant academy, it’s one of the best in the country, they think highly of him and they think he’s a bright prospect.

“I’ve got write-ups that they’ve sent me and they think he’s in the top five of the under 14s academy. They’ve even said, in their exact words, they’re excited to see how far this special player can go.

“It was a big achievement getting into the likes of City, Liverpool and United academies to go on trial, never mind going on a trial at Stoke and actually signing a contract. It’s massive.”

Cameron plays as a number 10, behind the front men, or on the left wing where his trademark is cutting in and firing in shots on goal.

“We’re made up, it’s a proper proud moment,” added Kenny.

“It’s been a long time coming because he’s grafted for it, he’s put a lot of hard work in.

“He’s sacrificed a lot at a young age, maybe coming in early from going out with mates or not doing that sort of thing because it might affect the game the next day.

“So he’s sacrificed a lot to get where he wants to be. That’s his dream, he eats, sleeps, breathes football and wants to be a pro football player – and he’s going in the right direction.

“As a family we’ve sacrificed a lot too, putting in the milage. Me, his mum and his family are behind him, but he’s got his head screwed on. He’s smashing school. He’s a proper humble nice kid, we don’t have to tell him off about anything, so I’m proud of him.”