Dream is just a game away

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Orlando Joao will take a step closer to realising his dream of becoming a professional footballer this weekend.

The 19-year-old full back from Serpentine Court in Bletchley is one of 22 players who have progressed to the final of Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition, which this year attracted a record number 5,700 entrants.

He impressed scouts with his performance in the semi-final at Wycombe Wanderers’ Adams Park in December, and hopes to take it a step further in this Saturday’s final.

Orlando said: “It is so great being one step closer to my dream and I am really looking forward to the final now.

“I’m ready for the performance of my life at the final.”

Orlando will now compete in an 11-a-side match against fellow amateur hopefuls at Swindon Town’s County Ground, with a contract at Wycombe, Leyton Orient or Swindon at stake.

Leyton Orient Manager Russell Slade said: “Talent is important, but what we’re after is someone with the right attitude who is willing to give everything and also take things on board and learn.”

Wycombe Wanderer’s boss Gareth Ainsworth said: “Some of these players will have dropped out of the league system and had experience before - this is a second chance for them.”

Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper added: “As well as their natural talent, I’ll be looking out for players that are not afraid of rolling their sleeves up, doing a bit of hard work and committing to the cause.”