After being released by Port Vale in the summer of 2007 after 1 year as a professional, ASE Graduate Mark Soboljew was keen to move on as quickly as possible.
Just three months on from his Vale Park exit, the youngster enrolled on the two year fast-track Law degree at Staffordshire University.
Mark takes up the story;
“I did the Apprenticeship programme though LFE and it was always impressed upon me how much the education was worth. LFE helped me get through two A Level qualifications in which I did well and from there on in, I always intended to look at the University route if things didn’t work out at Vale.”
“When I signed pro, I hoped I wouldn’t have to use them but as things transpired they came to my rescue when I was released and I was able to get straight on to the Law Degree.”
“Trying to find another Club in the League when you’ve left a (then) League One Club was nigh on impossible and while I’ve also played non-league football the decision to move on to University was a sensible one to make.”
Supported with funding from the PFA Mark graduated last summer and in doing so became the first student ever, at Staffs, to earn first-class honours on the LLB degree, via the fast track system.
He has subsequently moved onto the Legal Practice course and hopes to qualify as a solicitor later this year, but is grateful for his new start.
“The academic and legal practice side of things is great and the course has allowed me to challenge myself against other students in legal competitions aimed at enhancing the practical skills you will require when you walk out the door into a job.”
“My football background has probably helped me in that I’ve still got a competitive streak. I made the final of the 2009, Client Interviewing Competition for England and Wales which is national competition sponsored by the Law Society and I’ll be jetting off to Chicago at the end of March to take part in the International Law School Mediation Tournament.”
“Obviously it’s a disappointment to any player to be shown the door if you want to carry on playing for a club whether you’re 19 or 39 but there’s no point in looking back with any regrets or thinking what if. The important thing is to concentrate on where to go next.”
(Images courtesy of Dan Matthews)