AMATEUR footballer Danny Bate is one game away from winning a life-changing professional contract with League One Swindon Town or Leyton Orient.
Talented defender Danny, of Jubits Lane, St Helens is through to the Final of Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition, which attracted more than 5,000 entrants.
Danny, 19, was picked by Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio and Leyton Orient boss Russell Slade after impressing in the Semi-Final trial – an 11-a-side match held at Swindon’s County Ground on Sunday December 16.
Danny’s cousin, Dean Curtis, also made the Quarter-Final of the competition but was not chosen for the next stage.
Danny and 10 other players will in the Final face a Leyton Orient XI at the club’s Matchroom Stadium on Wednesday January 16.
Danny, who plays for AFC Liverpool in the North West Counties Football League, said: “It was a great feeling to be told I was in the Final. I made last season’s Final but was still very anxious to find out if I’d done enough this time.
"I felt I played OK, although I didn’t meet the standards I normally do. My delivery of the ball could’ve been better but I showed good energy.
“I’m going to keep my fitness levels up and make sure that I go to the gym over the Christmas holidays.
“Ever since I was young playing football is all I’ve wanted to do. To come this far and be so close to winning makes it feel like anything is possible.”
Slade said: “Danny has proved he’s got talent but the Final will be the toughest test he’s faced so far.
“I’m looking for players who can step up and show they have what it takes to become a professional – skill, fitness and the right attitude.
“Whoever I choose to win a contract will have shown me something special.”
Di Canio said: “All the finalists have done well to make it this far. They should be proud of their achievements.
“I am looking for a player who will fit into my current squad and improve as a footballer. He must have a good attitude and be willing to learn.
“There is an amazing prize on offer. The players will have to work hard to show that they deserve it.”
After the Final, Di Canio and Slade will invite a select group of players to train for a week with their respective first-team squads.
The managers will then pick one player each and offer them a one-year professional playing contract.