A football-mad student is off to the Premier League after landing his dream job.
James Allan, 23, has secured a role with Southampton FC.
It comes after the University of Sunderland student, from Jarrow, dramatically altered his career path after initially taking up an engineering apprenticeship upon leaving school.
After four years of training, he secured a job with British Engines, but just nine months later he decided his heart lay on the sports field.
He secured a place on a sports science degree course at the University of Sunderland, and has not looked back.
The former Jarrow School pupil said: “I just thought sport would be my hobby, something I did after work.
James has been a fantastic student to work with, his work ethic and passion for sport is inspirationalRob Graham
“I knew I enjoyed doing it, but never really considered it a career option.
“I got in touch with the University of Sunderland but really didn’t think I would have the qualifications to get onto a sports science degree course.
“I hadn’t taken the traditional A Level route and didn’t hold out much hope.”
However, James’ B-Tech and engineering HNC were enough to get him a place on the course, and he will now spend a year-long internship providing sport science support to Southampton FC’s Under-18s.
His role – which he beat off competition from more than 150 others to land – will start in July.
He said: “I will be there for the 2018-2019 season working with the players in the gym and on the field.
“We will be utilizing the use of GPS trackers in training and in games to monitor the players loads, technology we have been using at university.”
James has already worked with Durham County Cricket Club, the university’s men’s rugby team and has coached five to eight-year-olds at All-Stars Cricket at Ashbrooke Sports Club in Sunderland.
He underwent a day-long group interview with 40 other applicants to secure his role at Southampton, followed by an individual interview.
He is now in the process of relocating to Southampton, and will return to Sunderland to complete the course next year.
Rob Graham, sports development officer at the Institute of Sport at the University of Sunderland, said: “James has been a fantastic student to work with, his work ethic and passion for sport is inspirational.
“Very confident, James will end up at the forefront of improving athletic performance through designing and implementing cutting edge sport and exercise science techniques.”