Worthing-based goalkeeper Brad House has high hopes for the future after signing his first professional contract.
The 18-year-old began his football career at Worthing United and after spells with Portsmouth, Charlton and Arsenal has now signed a one-year deal with the Premier League Baggies, who he has been with for the past two years.
House is excited about what the future holds, with his long-term ambition to play regularly in the Premier League. He said: “My career started at Worthing United at the age of six and now, at 18, I’ve got a professional contract at West Brom and I’m really excited to get going.
“It’s a massive dream for me. My dad played at Worthing United, then was my coach and I always said to him I wanted to be a professional footballer. Now I’ve got there after 12 years of grafting and doing everything I could to reach my goal but my career hasn’t even really started yet. This is just the start of my professional career.”
House has already experienced highs and lows in football. After being released by Arsenal, he was quickly snapped up by West Brom, whose goalkeeper coach Mark Naylor saw the potential in the teenager.
House said: “I had massive doubts about whether I’d become a professional footballer when I was at Arsenal.
“I broke my pelvis and was out injured for 14 months aged 15, so a lot of thoughts went through my head, like do I give up and go down an alternative route with college and uni?
“After the injury, I came back, got fit again and just hit the ground running.
“However Arsenal brought in a Portuguese lad because I wasn’t what they were looking for. That’s just football, it’s ruthless but West Brom obviously thought I was one for them and took me on.”
Looking ahead to next season, House said: “For the first three months hopefully I’ll get a run of games with the under-23s. If they go well, hopefully a club in a lower league will come in for me. That will be a good test because playing first team football in my first year as a professional is probably what I need – just to get out there into the real world and play men’s football where it will be a lot more physical.”
House began his football career as a defender at Worthing United but has not looked back since his father, Paul, asked him to go in goal for an under-ten match. He said: “There was no one else to go in goal and my dad asked if I fancied it.
“You do have to be crazy to go in goal. You have to chuck your head at people’s feet and be a bit tapped in the head but I love it. My mum’s always said I get my handling skills from her because she’s a netballer. But my dad, who has been a massive influence for me, did a lot of coaching with me when I was younger and is probably the reason why I am where I am now.”
On aims further down the line, House said: “You set yourself goals for the future. I aspire to be a Premier League goalkeeper and maybe even an international goalkeeper. To play for your country is a dream every kid has.
“For the short term, I’m looking ahead to next year and to go out on loan and play under-23s football.
“Medium-term, if I do well, hopefully England will give me a chance to play under-19s football. The long term aim is to aspire to be a Premier League goalkeeper.”
House, who looks up to Marc-Andre ter Stegen at Barcelona and Hugo Lloris at Tottenham, has not forgotten his routes and said: “Playing at Worthing United helped my development massively. Being a centre back is probably what has helped me become a modern day goalkeeper.
“Without the sessions here with my dad and Mark Sanderson, I don’t think I would be as comfortable with my feet so I’ve got to give the club here a lot of credit for that.”
Worthing United chairman Steve Taylor said: "Brad can be an inspiration for a lot of youngsters in Worthing and at Worthing United.
"Hopefully he'll be the first of many to go on and play professional football. We want players to progress while they're at the club from the youth set-up, to the under-18s to the under-21s up to the senior team but we'd never stand in anyone's way.
"Brad is someone the youngsters here can look up to and, if they show the right attitude and commitment, they could join a professional club too."
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