Ex-Mag on the way back up – Callum Roberts
There must be nothing more devastating for a young footballer trying to make the grade in the game they love, than being released by the club that you have always dreamed of playing for.
This was the situation that befell Callum Roberts last summer, as he found himself without a professional contract for the first time at the age of 22 after being on the books of Newcastle United since he was just eight years old.
It was a sad end to what had seemed to be an incredibly promising young career for the tricky winger.
Roberts had continually impressed since first breaking into Newcastle United’s under 18 side while still a schoolboy.
His form at under 23 level for United was impressive. He would make 87 appearances, scoring 34 goals and claiming 24 assists, which was enough to see him capped for England at under 20 level.
However, like so many young players before him, Roberts struggled to translate that form to senior level with three disappointing loan spells at Gateshead, Kilmarnock and Colchester United.
This was enough to convince the decision makers at Newcastle that he wasn’t going to be good enough for first team action.
He would leave the club having made two senior appearances for the club, both in the FA Cup, with one goal to his name.
So what happens to a young player when the career they have worked so hard for hangs in the balance?
Roberts, who told the Chronicle that he was ‘shell shocked’ to leave the club, inevitably found himself back on trial and having to prove himself once more. He had trials with Burnley, Middlesbrough and Southend without success and was considering his future in the game, when he received a text from Lee Clark, who had been his manager during his short loan spell at Kilmarnock.
Clark was now in charge of Blyth Spartans after spells as a manager in the football league and in Scotland.
The decision by Callum Roberts to accept a short-term contract at Blyth has worked out brilliantly. Proving far too good for that level he took the National League North by storm, scoring 17 goals in 25 games from the wing and attracting interest from the Football League.
He hasn’t quite made it back there yet but his form has now seen him snapped up by Notts County who are currently 6th in the National League.
Posting on social media, Roberts said that his time at Blyth had helped him ‘get his love back for the game’.
It’s fantastic to see a young player who could have so easily given up and drifted into obscurity, show the strength of character to drop down the divisions and fight his way back up the football pyramid.
I’m sure all fans of Newcastle United will wish him well.
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