By Full Contact News and Views
Full Contact client and 19 year old Bermudan forward Rai Simons has made his professional and Football League debut.
Entering the field of play as a 66th minute substitute for Chesterfield against Burton Albion, the pro debut marked Rai transition’s from the amateur ranks – he had only turned professional in July after spending two seasons at Evo-Stik NPL club Ilkeston. Rai becomes the third client and former Ilkeston player to make an appearance in League One in just nine months – following in the foot-steps of Che Adams (Sheffield United) and Ashley Hunter (Fleetwood).
Whilst the result of the game was a disappointment for Rai (Chesterfield lost 2-1), he showed glimpses of the talent and potential that has already seen him win a number of full caps for Bermuda and impress Chesterfield’s staff in reserve team fixtures since joining up with the Spireites this summer. The professional debut caused particular pride at Full Contact as senior partner Dan Chapman explained “Rai was in many ways the trailblazer for our project to work with Bermuda players and in particular to find the youngsters from that island who could go on to be the next Shaun Goater or Nakhi Wells. Working with Paul Scope out in Bermuda and Nigel Harrop at Ilkeston we have been assisting Rai for two years now, and to see him progress from the shy, raw 17 year old he was through the Ilkeston academy and u21 side to the point where now he has made his professional debut for Chesterfield is an extremely proud moment. It has not always been made easy for Rai and his determination and commitment, dedication to adapt from Bermudan to English life and football, allied with his vast natural talent has now given him this platform to perhaps go on and be the next star from that island. He has also shown to other young players in Bermuda how it can be done – the ‘norm’ of late has been that an aspiring footballer goes to the US and plays college soccer, and Rai was one of the first who was brave enough to move across to England by himself at 16 or so, go through a scholarship with Ilkeston and gradually adapt and prepare for a professional club. He has made the path for others to follow that much easier, which is a great credit to him.”
Rai will now be aiming to earn further appearances for Chesterfield’s first-team, and Full Contact’s Head of Football Lee Payne praised the part the Derbyshire club have played in Rai’s short professional career to date; “Firstly, Chesterfield’s director of player recruitment Paul Mitchell did a great job in spotting the potential Rai had. He mostly played for Ilkeston’s youth sides and when he did play for the first team he was not normally deployed in his natural position, and there are only so many clubs prepared to back themselves when identifying young, raw talent, particularly from non-league football but Paul was. Secondly, in the three months since he has joined up with Dean Saunders’ side, the club have done well in improving Rai’s tactical awareness and his fitness and physicality has improved considerably. Rai has a very long way to go, of course, but it is definitely so far, so good and as we have already seen with Che and Ashley – and indeed many others including Dion Donohue at Chesterfield who was also playing in the same Evo-Stik division as the Ilkeston players – that the jump from non-league to Football League need not be as big as many clubs assume.”
We wish Rai and Chesterfield all the best for the remainder of the season.
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About Full Contact
Full Contact News and Views includes articles contributed by Associates and professional contacts within the Full Contact team and includes opinion on sports law, PR and media, football agency and more.
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