An Oxfordshire footballer with aspirations to play the game professionally has reflected on his “once in a lifetime” experience representing England Schoolboys.
Niko Nemonen-Millar donned the Three Lions jersey as part of England’s Centenary Shield campaign against Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
The 17-year-old featured in all four fixtures and helped the national squad to seven points from their games, which included wins against Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Niko’s position in the England squad was facilitated by Velocity Football – a full-time educational academy based at Oxford City Football Club in Marston. The former Gosford Hill student said it was a privilege to represent his country and something he’ll never forget.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” said Niko. “To represent your country and play in front of the TV cameras is not something everyone gets the opportunity to do, it was a real honour.
“The coaching staff gave me some great feedback and I was really pleased with my performances.”
Niko enrolled with Velocity Football in September 2021 following his release from Oxford United after a spell in the club’s academy.
He now combines training and National League academy matches with work towards completing a Level 3 BTEC which unlocks a proven pathway to various careers in sport or higher education.
The talented defender hopes to use his experience and knowledge gained at Velocity to explore broadening his education in America or signing a professional contract in the UK.
He added: “Enrolling onto the Velocity Football programme is one of the best things I’ve done. I get to balance education with training, which for me is perfect.
“I can continue to chase my dream of becoming a professional footballer knowing I’ll gain an industry recognised qualification at the end. Many of my friends on the course aren’t interested at all in becoming a professional player – they’re more focused on exploring careers in coaching, analysis, physiotherapy and nutrition.
“To anyone with a passion for sport who is leaving school this year or unsure of what they’re doing at sixth form or college, I’d definitely recommend enrolling. My tutors and coaches have really helped me to develop as a person and I feel that has helped to improve my game on the pitch.”
Anyone interested in fulfilling a career in sport is invited to attend Velocity Football’s Open Event at Oxford City FC on Wednesday, May 18, from 6.30pm.
Places can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0300 303 0890.