In a league of his own
PUBLISHED: 12:08 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 14:54 12 May 2010
A TALENTED young footballer from Royston has described his involvement in a television reality show as a dream . For more than three weeks 17-year-old, Dalton O Brien lived like a Premiership star, after playing his way through to the final rounds of S
A TALENTED young footballer from Royston has described his involvement in a television reality show as a "dream".
For more than three weeks 17-year-old, Dalton O'Brien lived like a Premiership star, after playing his way through to the final rounds of Sky One's Football Icon 2 - in which the country's top young footballers battled it out for a professional contract with Premiership champions Chelsea.
The Meridian School sixth-form student competed against 10,000 aspiring players from all over the country and made it to the final shortlist of 12.
He was then invited to Chelsea's training ground in Cobham, Surrey, where he was put to the test by the club's coaching staff.
Dalton, who supports Liverpool, said: "To be part of something like this was amazing. It was a great experience. I've only ever played at a local standard, so to be trained by the top coaches at one of the best clubs in the world is something that I will never forget."
The show, which was filmed over the summer and at the beginning of September, is currently being shown on Fridays at 8pm.
Each episode sees the finalists being whittled down, as a panel of judges - youth academy coach Neil Bath, and ex-professionals Jamie Redknapp and Eddie Newton - work towards a final three.
The final three will then put their fate into the hands of Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who will ultimately pick the winner.
Dalton, who plays for Royston Town's youth team showcased his silky skills over five episodes before he was voted off in the last show.
He said: "I was gutted by the decision, but I had a good time.
"I couldn't believe that I made the last 40, never mind the final 12. But it is nice to be back to reality and everyone has been really supportive."
On the field, Dalton worked with some of football's top coaches, was given advice from ex-professionals and got the chance to watch the Chelsea first team train.
And away from the field, he completed the dream by staying in a lavish mansion just like his own footballing icon, Steven Gerrard.
"I got to stay in a massive mansion that had its own cinema, leather sofas, swimming pool and gym. It was like a dream - I couldn't believe what was going on. The whole experience has been unbelievable."
Despite missing out on the grand prize, Dalton insists that he will continue to follow his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
He said: "I've always wanted to be a professional foot-baller and for a short time I got to see what it would be like.
"I may not have won the competition, but I'm determined to make it and I see this opportunity as a great stepping stone.
"I'll take on board what I've learned, work hard and hopefully get a trial somewhere else and from there who knows?