THE very first Improtech Soccer player – Ethan Robson – made his full debut for Sunderland AFC in their FA Cup game at Middlesbrough at the weekend and earned words of praise from Black Cats’ boss Chris Coleman.
The game against the Teessiders ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat for Sunderland but Ethan was one of the few bright spots for the Black Cats.
And afterwards former Wales manager Coleman enthused: “I thought Ethan had a good, game, a good debut, and he’s got nothing to worry about, that’s for sure.
“He made some good passes and showed courage because it’s not easy in our situation, where every game is a must-win game.
“He came in and I thought he took responsibility brilliantly, played well, moved the ball well and wasn’t fazed, so good for him.”
For the 21-year-old himself, riding the crest of a wave after being nominated for Player of the Month for the Reserves, his full debut was literally a dream come true.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was eight years old and I was grateful of the opportunity,” he said.
“I would love to play again for the club, it’s a great club and it’s my home club and it was a proud moment for me and my family.”
Ethan’s full debut – he has previously been involved in first-team games as a substitute against Everton and Aston Villa – was made even more challenging by Sunderland’s huge injury list, which saw defender Marc Wilson being asked to play alongside him in central midfield.
And it wasn’t easy to make a first start in a team struggling badly this season and bereft of confidence.
But Ethan, the son of Improtech director Simon Robson, rose to the challenge and has now put himself in contention for more first-team appearances, with three more games – against Cardiff, Hull and Birmingham – due to be played before the end of January.
A dreadful campaign for Sunderland so far is proving to be a promising one for Ethan with manager Coleman pleased with the desire of the young players at the club and confident they will continue to develop and improve in the weeks and months ahead.
In the meantime, Ethan is an inspiration to all those young players in Improtech Soccer academies and training sessions who work so hard and dream of one day making it.
Improtech managing director Martin Scott, said: “Sometimes when you’re young and you’re putting in the hard work, success can seem a long way away. It can be a challenge to keep your focus.
“But Ethan was no different – a few years ago he was a long, long way away from this moment – but he has shown unbelievable dedication and desire and he has got his rewards.
“He is the perfect example to all young players involved with Improtech Soccer that if they show the same dedication to improving and honing their game, and if they’ve got the talent and the hunger to make the most of it, we can guide them down the same route.
“We are all thrilled for Ethan, who thoroughly deserves his success.”