Sunderland sign 16-year-old Hartlepool midfielder Will Cain on a two-year scholarship deal

A Hartlepool schoolboy is living the dream after signing a scholarship with Sunderland – the club his family has supported for decades.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 1:54 pm
Will Cain and his Sunderland shirt.
Will Cain and his Sunderland shirt.

Will Cain, who has just spent his final day at Northern Education Trust Dyke House Academy, is now spending the summer getting ready for training as a full-time footballer at the Academy of Light.

The 16-year-old has dedicated the last eight years of his life to combining his exceptional schoolwork with developing his undoubted talent.

Hearing that Sunderland were keeping him on was made that extra bit special because he was brought up a fan by his Black Cats supporting grandad, Brian, and dad Phil.Cain, a versatile centre-midfielder, said: “It feels great to know I am going to be going back and training every day like a professional footballer, that’s the result of all the work I have put in over the last eight years.

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Will Cain (pictured top row second in from the right) and his Dyke House Academy Year 11 team-mates before beating the teachers on penalties on the final day.

“That was what all the work was for and now I will be doing everything I can to make sure I cope with the demands of being a footballer.

“My grandad was from Sunderland and all of his family, so my dad grew up a fan of Sunderland too – and I have grown up that way too. Every Sunderland fan’s dream is to play for the club. Now I want to get in the first team so badly because that is my club.”

Cain will be working under former Hartlepool coach John Hewitson as part of the Sunderland Under-18s squad when he returns for pre-season training in July, building towards the new season in August.

“A couple of the lads had got the contracts early, well deserved, and I had to wait until February for mine,” said Will.

Will Cain with Dyke House Principal Adam Palmer.

“It was quite testing. It was the first time I have played for a contract because I have always known in advance.

“That should benefit me going into the next two years, fighting for a pro deal. In the Football League it tends to be always short-term contracts, so I know what it feels like already."

Cain helped Sunderland to win the Under-13 International Premier League Cup and then the Under-14s National Cup. He was also called into the Under-16s provisional Scotland squad.

Last year he captained Dyke House’s team to the County Cup final but it didn’t take place because of Covid-19. Will is now waiting to receive his GCSE results in August.

Adam Palmer, Dyke House’s Principal, said: “Will is a remarkable young man and is an absolute credit to his family. His dedication towards both his studies and his football have paid off for him and we are all absolutely delighted for him.

“We will keep a keen eye on his development and look forward to tracking his career as a professional footballer.

“I think it’s also important to recognise his mature attitude towards his studies. Will has a very clear plan in place about his next steps in education, alongside his football, which is testament to the type of person he is.

“He's very driven, mature, and incredibly hardworking.”

Cain has been part of Dyke House’s Elite Development Squad sports scholarship programme for five years and he is planning to study an extended BTEC at Sunderland, equivalent to three A-levels, so he has the option of university in future.

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