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Promising Goalkeeper's Man Utd Trial

5 March 2013

An up and coming prospect in the Notts County Academy spent the half-term break on trial with Premier League giants Manchester United.

Under-13 goalkeeper Curtis Hall linked up with the Red Devils after he caught the eye one of their scouts at a recent match.  

As a result, Hall spent the week training with United's under-13s, where he was also given a guided tour of their state-of-the-art training facility in Carrington and handed tickets to their match against Reading at Old Trafford.

Head of youth Mick Leonard told the official site: "His dad said that Curtis found it a little bit difficult to comprehend but when you’ve got a training facility like they’ve got, it can be mind-blowing for a boy of 13. 

"The first team were training and they came into the Carrington restaurant and had lunch whilst Curtis and his dad were in there and seeing faces you see on Match of the Day can be quite daunting.

"He’s had a fantastic experience and, by all accounts did well, so it will be interesting to see what comes of it."

As part of the Elite Player Performance Plan, Premier League clubs are able to scout the Magpies' Academy, as long as the correct procedures are followed.

Should Manchester United be interested in the player, the club would be entitled to a fee.

“That’s a discussion for Jim [Rodwell] and, ultimately, Ray and Aileen [Trew]," continued Leonard.

"It’s the first time that I’ve ever been in this position and it’s a good position to be in, because I know MK Dons have sold an under-14 for £2 million.

“It gives me a good feeling that we’ve got players with a stock value, which we never had before.

“But, as we’ve said from the word go, we’re in a business here and we work within a budget. 

"We need to balance the books in a manner of speaking and if we can sell a boy on for the right money that the chief exec and the directors feel is the right amount, then I’d be very happy."

Leonard made it clear that the club is not desperate to offload talented youngsters and would be delighted to see Hall remain in the Academy.

He continued: “The parents are very level headed and they understand that while it’s great for him to go up there and get that good experience, if they do fancy him, he’s got to get to Manchester – does he go and live there? 

“He might not want to leave here, because I know he likes it here, and he might feel that his pathway to get where he wants to be is by staying here, like Fabian Spiess.

“Ultimately, I wouldn’t want to lose an under 13, I’d like to see him progress like Spiess has progressed and play in the first team for Notts County.

“At this stage, it’s an experience for the lad but we’ll see how it pans out but they might think he could be potentially anything.
 “I think he’s one of those, because, at the moment, he’s got everything you need - work-rate and a supportive family - but he’s only a baby.” 

Leonard spotted Hall in very fortunate circumstances at a Priory Celtic Tournament over two years ago.

Hall was actually a centre-back and had only appeared in goal for local side Hucknall Rolls Royce due to the regular goalkeeper being ill. 

“I was attending with Nick Palmer, our head of talent ID and I just happened to spot this boy playing in goal,” Leonard recalled.

“I thought ‘where has he come from?’ It was one of those Fabian Spiess moments, because he was a strong kid, very composed at receiving back-passes and playing out.

“His distribution and shot stopping was excellent and he had everything in a 10 or 11-year-old goalkeeper that we look for.

“I got introduced to his father, Glenn, who was also the manager of the team, and Nick told me that there was a problem. 

“It wasn’t that he had never signed for a club, it was that he had never played in goal before.

“I was gobsmacked because I would have put my last dollar on saying that he had been coached, just by the way he was keeping goal. 

“His dad said ‘I don’t know if he even wants to play in goal’ and Curtis was shrugging his shoulders, so I left it with them and gave them the rest of the summer to think about it."

Hall joined the Magpies on a six-week trial, where he worked closely with Academy goalkeeping coach Lee Broster. 

Having been impressed with the County set-up, Hall signed for the club as an under-11. 

“Since then, he’s improved as every year goes by, he’s a great size, a strong boy and a very intelligent and thoughtful lad,” said Leonard.

“He studies his game, works hard asks questions, and does what is asked of him and he’s a credit to his parents.”

The Notts Academy is quickly building up a strong reputation, especially in terms of goalkeeping.

Youth team graduates Spiess and Liam Mitchell have turned out for the first team this season and Leonard feels that many more have the potential to follow in their footsteps. 

“It’s a great promotion for our programme, because even though it’s still in its infancy, so to speak, it shows that we’re on the right track if the biggest clubs in the world are looking at our players,” he continued. 

“It shows we must have a good goalkeeping programme and he’s getting good coaching with Lee. 

“Not to take it away from the Curtis, it’s ultimately down to his hard work and dedication – he’s a fantastic lad and he deserves what he gets.

“It’s the solid foundation that we want to achieve and I think he’s the first of many.”

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