LUIS Shamshoum believes Southend United’s academy has been one of the best in the country for producing young goalkeepers.

The 21-year-old shot-stopper, who will line up at Wembley for Great Wakering Rovers this weekend, spent five seasons within the youth ranks at Roots Hall.

And Shamshoum still believes the Shrimpers were one of the best places to be for up and coming goalies.

“I was there from under 10s through to the under 15s and it was brilliant,” said Shamshoum.

“I had opportunities to train with Dan Bentley, Ted Smith and Paul Smith when he was there and there were just so many good goalkeepers.

“I was there for Nathan Bishop’s first training session, we had Dan Confrey and Callum Taylor who were both internationals and Harry Seaden was there too.

“We were all learning from each other and Southend’s academy for goalkeepers was one of the best.

“In the League One days I would say it was one of the best in the country.

“Keepers have gone on to do well and it’s no surprise the coaches have too.

“Terry and Reece are now both at Arsenal and Terry is involved with England too.”

Shamshoum’s spell with the Shrimpers ended when he was not awarded a scholarship for the youth team. He found his Roots Hall exit tough to take.

“It was gutting and it was a horrible feeling being released by your boyhood club and the club you love,” said Shamshoum.

“It was really tough but it did open the door to other things.”

And Shamshoum was not without a club for long.

“Two or three days later Glenn Tamplin was phoning my dad from Billericay Town,” said Shamshoum.

“I was only 15 and I remember training with loads of ex pros like Jamie O’Hara and Paul Konchesky thinking what am I doing here.

“It was brilliant though and I got to learn so much from their goalkeeper Alan Julian.

“He’s a really nice bloke and I was with him two or three years before he moved on.

“It was incredible experience and it helped me go from youth team football to first team football.

“I was there for five years before going to Hashtag.”

Shamshoum has also had more loan spells “than he can remember” but he joined Wakering on a permanent basis last summer.

And it has been eventful ever since.

“On my debut we missed two penalties then I saved one in the last minute but it had to be retaken,” said Shamshoum.

“He scored it but was then sent off so it was eventful and it still is!

“No-one would’ve thought at the start of the season we’d be in the Vase final. We were pushing for play-offs until the last game too and it was frustrating to miss out.

“Being honest the Vase probably distracted us a bit and we ended up with eight games in 12 days or something like that but this is the experience of a lifetime.”

Shamshoum has previously been to Wembley to watch Southend, England and Brentford, the team his grandad supports.

And the Thundersley based shot-stopper is still struggling to believe he will now be playing at the stadium.

“I’ve done the tour there and it’s just crazy to think I’m going to play there,” said Shamshoum.

“It’s going to be so special and fingers crossed it’s us going up the steps to get the trophy at the end.”