In the third installment of the series which follows footballers released from clubs we meet Jordan Lavender, a former Sunderland U18s captain who is now pursuing a football scholarship in America.
Jordan joined the Academy of Light when he was just ten years old and as a trainee one of his duties was to clean manager Martin O'Neill's boots - although he revealed they never got too dirty.
He was kept on for eight years, but in December 2011 he was told that the club would not be extending his contract past the end of the season.
Jordan said: “I was so disappointed and dejected.
“The disappointment stayed with me for a long time after. It’s still there now.”
Since being released Jordan has credited the Academy of Light's emphasis on education and non-footballing activities to prepare players for life away from the game.
“The amount of opportunities on and off the field they’ve offered me has given me a wider knowledge of what to expect when I go out into working life,” he said.
Since his release, Jordon has had a successful trial with Gateshead but turned down a contract to follow his dream of a football scholarship in America.
He is currently awaiting the results of exams which will confirm his place at West Virginia University.
There, he will have the opportunity to play in America's lower leagues which feed players into the country’s top flight.
But Jordan says his main priority is receiving a good education and finding work, not playing professional football.
“If it does happen, I would love it and that’s what I would want, but the reality of it – I’ve just got to see when I get over there.”
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