Northampton amateur footballer Claudio Hoban is one game away from winning a life-changing professional contract with npower League One Swindon Town or Leyton Orient.
Striker Hoban is through to the Final of Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition, which attracted more than 5,000 entrants.
The 21-year-old 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.
Hoban and 10 other players will face a Leyton Orient XI in the final at the club’s Matchroom Stadium on Wednesday January 16.
Hoban, who plays for Histon FC in the Blue Square North, said: “It feels great to make it through to the Final. I didn’t play to my full potential so wasn’t sure I’d get picked.
“I played for my club Histon the day before the semi-final and picked up a bit of an injury. Luckily I managed to show the managers a bit of what I can do.
“I like to run at defenders and take them on. I got a couple of assists in the last trial and tried to be positive on the ball.
“I’ve got a busy Christmas schedule with Histon so that will help me prepare for the Final. I want to show that I can score goals and create chances for my team-mates.
“It would be a dream come true to win a professional contract. I definitely think I’m good enough – I wouldn’t have entered otherwise.”
Slade, who was once on the coaching staff at the Cobblers, said: “Claudio 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.”
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.
Sky Sports will broadcast a three-part series on this season’s Samsung Win A Pro Contract competition in the new year.