Little over a week after playing a starring role in the Republic of Ireland’s Group Eight World Cup Qualification encounter with world champions Italy in Bari, Reading’s Stephen Hunt was on hand at The Madejski Stadium to add a personal touch to Progression 09.
Visiting League Football Education’s, Progression 09 ‘The Southern Careers Event’ at his home stadium, the Club’s official Supporters Player of the Year for the 2007/08 season observed hundreds of young footballers and other elite athletes engage with employers, further/higher education institutions and training and recruitment organisations as part of LFE’s strategy to support, re-train and provide alternative career and study opportunities to sporting Apprentices and those retiring from sport.
And despite having mixed it with Buffon, Zambrotta, Cannavaro and co a week earlier, a clearly impressed Hunt took the time out to hold court with a number of young footballers, passing on advice and the benefits of experiences gained when released by Crystal Palace and subsequent rejections by Halifax Town and Preston North End before finding a home at Brentford’s Griffin Park.
“I’m proud to be here today to support this event. As a professional footballer I think it’s important that as an industry we can support initiatives like Progression 09. I was released by Crystal Palace as a young player so I can share the feelings of many of the lads here who are understandably nervous over their futures at the moment.”
“While I hope as many as possible can become players, today’s event should help those that can’t continue in the game. If they show the commitment they have already given in their football I’ve no doubts that many will go on to forge successful careers away from the game.”