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INTERVIEW: Non-League prospect hoping to emulate Watmore as he bids to win Sunderland contract

Bognor Regis Town midfielder Tommy Block will travel north this weekend in a bid to earn himself a full-time contract with Sunderland. We sat down with the 17-year old to chat about his dream of making it in professional football and what he’s got to come once he arrives on Wearside this Sunday.

Tommy Block (Bognor Regis Town) is about to embark upon a trial with Sunderland next week
Bognor News

RR: So... Sunderland. How did that come about?

TB: I believe they sent a couple of scouts down to watch whilst I was playing for Bognor Regis Town, and then they rang the club to let them know that they were interested. It’s just gone from there, really.

RR: Have you been up to the North East to train yet?

TB: No - they’re flying me and Dad up on Sunday, and they’ve got a hotel sorted for us.

RR: Ah brilliant. And how long are you staying for? What do you know about what you’ll be doing - which squad will you be training with?

TB: I’m staying up until the Friday. I’m not 100% sure which squad I’ll be training with, but I’m coming up to trial for a professional contract.

RR: Sounds exciting - how are you feeling about it? Confident, nervous?

TB: Yes, it’s very exciting and I can’t wait. And, both - I’m confident but nervous as well. When you have such a big club like Sunderland wanting to take a look at you, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel nervous about it! All I can do is work hard and hope my best is good enough, and with a bit of luck... who knows what will happen?

Block in action for Bognor earlier this season
Picture by Tommy McMillan

RR: Give us a bit of a background on your playing career so far - who did you play for as a youngster?

TB: I was at Brighton & Hove Albion for five years from under 11s to under 16s, but I didn’t get a scholarship so left. I decided to then go to college and work hard. I’ve been at Swansea also. But I then got picked for the England Colleges team, and I went to Italy with the squad to take part in a national tournament against the likes of Italy, Albania, Greece and a few others.

After that, the manager of the England team got me to Bognor Regis Town, and I made my debut against Weston-super-mare at home at the age of 17 in the National League South.

RR: You’re only young of course, but you’re turning out regularly for a team playing, like you said, in the National League South. What has it been like playing ‘mens’ football this season, and how would you say that you’ve coped?

TB: I have to play with my head when it comes to playing ‘proper’ football against blokes bigger and stronger than me, however I’m physically fit for my age and I match a lot of the men I come up against, so I do alright.

Block was selected to represent England at college level in 2017
Bognor News

RR: The obvious path to follow would be that of Duncan Watmore, who arrived at Sunderland as a teenager having turned out regularly in the National League North. Do you look up to Duncan as an example of what could potentially happen if all of the stars align for you?

TB: Yeah, I look up to everyone who was in my position and then pushed through to become a pro - it still gives me belief that I can make it. And, obviously I will take any advice I can get and use it in my own way to become the best I can be - and that can be off Duncan hopefully if I was to be signed.

RR: What can you tell us about your playing style - what kind of footballer are you?

TB: I’m a centre midfielder - I can play holding, but also box-to-box. I’ve got a lot of stamina, and I’m able to change my playing style to suit the team. However, I like a tackle, getting on the ball and starting off attacks. I go for the occasional run forward with the ball sometimes, and drive the team forward by doing this. Someone did liken me to Lee Cattermole the other day!

RR: Thanks Tommy, and good luck. Here’s hoping that everything works out for you after your trip to the North East this week!