SIXTEEN-year-old Bradley Confrey is about to make the biggest move of his footballing life.
He’s signed a two-year scholarship contract for Bristol Rovers.
The King John School prefect – who is also a second dan karate black belt – was released by Southend United in January.
And the Chelsea supporter has decided to make the move to the south-west to pursue his footballing dreams. Confrey, who is just finishing his GCSE exams, is currently captain of the King John school team which recently won the District Schools cup final.
His mum, Debbie Confrey, said: “It’s a huge break for him and he really wants to go to Bristol and get playing football again.
“He started playing years ago and played for Benfleet Youth, Dark Lane Dynamos, Basildon Wanderers – now called Basildon Town – and then with Billericay Town Colts.
“He signed for the Southend Academy as a 15-year-old, first in the development group and then – after he’d played against Norwich – he went into the academy.
“Bradley’s 6ft 3ins tall and a centre back so they could see the potential in the way he played,” she added.
He was at the Blues Academy for a while but in the end Southend’s head of youth Ricky Duncan said they would have to release him.
“Ricky said that he’d like to keep him on, but said finances were tight.”
Academy release players can then take part in “exit trials” and he impressed in one of these trials held at Charterhouse School in Surrey. Interest was show from League Two clubs Oxford United and Cambridge United plus the two sides relegated from League Two, Torquay United and Bristol Rovers.
The football-mad family sought the advice of former Southend United player Adam Barrett who told them he rated Bristol Rovers’ set up and praised the club’s traditions and approach to youth players.
Debbie Confrey said: “Adam’s advice was good and helped us make up our minds.
“We went to visit all the clubs that showed interest, but the set up at Bristol was good.
As well as all the training he’ll be continuing his education and doing a sports diploma at the Bristol City Academy in a class of just seven.
“If he were doing it here he’d probably be in a class of 30 so that’s good for his education,” he added.
Bradley’s father Nigel Confrey, who now runs the Junior Bocas under-12s team which trains in Hadleigh, and Bradley’s little brother Danny – another King John pupil – are very proud of the teenager.
Bradley with his family