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Lake Mac football prodigy Eli Gorton kicking new goals


Eli Gorton’s dream of playing in the UEFA Champions League is a little step closer after the football prodigy recently secured a scholarship to tour England.

In fact, the talented Lake Macquarie centre/midfielder has the world quite literally at his feet.

Within a short space of time, he’s attracted the attention of Australian legend Tim Cahill, ex-international superstar Dwight Yorke, F2Freestyler Billy Wingove and numerous A-League stars on his Instagram account.

Not bad for a nine-year-old.

“It’s a really good sport,” Eli said.

“Even though you have 10 team mates on the field, it’s virtually just you and the ball.

“That’s what I love.

“I started kicking a ball when I was three and my dad’s (Ryan) helped me along the way.

“Everything’s gone from there.”

The young gun plays for the Broadmeadow Magic in the Junior Development League (JDL) competition, up an age group in the under-11s, under the watchful eye of first grade coach John Bennis.

He was offered a position with the Central Coast Mariners Academy this year, however Eli – and his parents – decided to stay local for another season.

He’s also training with the Elite 11s squad in the Newcastle Jets Program and alongside highly-respected mentor Jobe Wheelhouse at the Jobe Wheelhouse Football Academy.

Eli Gorton with his proud dad, Ryan, at Speers Point. Photo: Rod Thompson

“Jobe is an exceptional coach,” father Ryan said.

“He has really helped Eli to take his game to the next level.”

As well, the youngster started training with the newly-established Newcastle Elite Football Academy (NEFA), run by ex-professionals Taylor Regan, Daniel McBreen, Roy O’Donovan and Ben McNamara.

However, it was an event last month, which could potentially change Eli’s life.

He attended a three-day trial with Global Football Network (GFN) UK in Sydney, which drew interest from GFN coaches from the United Kingdom and talent scouts from the English Premier League (EPL).

Hundreds of players, ranging from under-9s to under-17s, were on hand to showcase their skills.

Afterwards, a squad was chosen for the best 11 participants in each age group.

Then, out of all the trialists, the player who impressed the scouts the most would be offered a scholarship with the price of the tour to England covered.

And, that honour went to Eli.

“My whole body stopped when I heard the news,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I just couldn’t believe it.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting it, I was so surprised.

“But, it will be a great experience.

“I’ll have the chance to learn so much over there.”

Gifted Lake Macquarie footballer Eli Gorton. Photo: Rod Thompson

The scouts admitted he displayed a high level of technical ability and excellent first touch on the ball.

His positive attitude and work ethic also stood out, arriving early and warming up before anyone else turned up.

During the tour, from 21 October to 3 November, Eli will train and play against top EPL academies – Manchester City FC, Liverpool FC, Chelsea FC, Leicester City FC, Fullham FC, Sheffield United FC, Bolton Wanderers FC and Blackpool FC.

They’ll also attend three EPL matches and go on private stadium excursions.

“He will get to see first-hand what it takes to make it to the Premier League,” Ryan said.

“My wife (Kim) and I are so proud and happy for him.

“Eli is very deserving of this opportunity due to the time and effort he puts into the sport he loves.

“He’s extremely hard-working and committed to improving his game.

“We’ve tried to instil a work ethic and growth mindset beyond his years.

“So, he understands that If he wants to succeed in anything, he must put in the work to achieve his ambitions.”

Eli Gorton provides a little sample of his footballing skills.

On top of his training, Eli undertakes ball mastery at home and is always juggling it, trying to beat his record – which currently sits at 385.

The Central Coast Mariners and Liverpool fan’s also begun doing it with a tennis ball after being inspired by Craig Johnston’s story.

“About seven or eight, I realised I was a bit ahead of the other kids my age,” he said.

“However, that didn’t mean I stopped.

“I wanted to get better… and kept going.

“A quote on my wall at home says: ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’.

“That’s something I follow daily.

“I watch plenty of professional matches to learn more about the game, too.

“My goal is to, one day, put on an Australian shirt and play for a big club in Europe.”

And, when he doesn’t have a football in his hands, Eli volunteers his time every weekend to help coach younger players from his school.

He also participated in the Starlight Foundation’s Super Swim Challenge and set himself a target to swim 20km – he completed 23km – over the month of February.

Subsequently, he raised $1,800 for the organisation to assist sick kids who are in hospital.

If anyone would like to follow his journey, you can do so on Instagram at @eli_gorton

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