Friday 28 July 2017

A-levels verdict 'just like waiting to take a penalty'

Martin Samuelsen
Martin Samuelsen

Tim Rich

Since joining West Ham in June, Martin Samuelsen has made two journeys back to Manchester, the city where in every sense of the word he was educated.

This afternoon's journey to the Etihad Stadium, where the 18-year-old will form part of Slaven Bilic's squad, will be rather less nervous than the one he took by train alone to pick up his A-level results.

When he stood in the tiled corridor of St Bede's College, one of Manchester's leading private schools, waiting for his envelope, he likened it to "waiting to take a penalty".

When he opens the envelope, he is not sure if he has scored. He had Bs in chemistry, physics and maths. "The last year let me down," he says.

Samuelsen is being very harsh on himself. Aside from his manager, who studied for a degree in law while playing for Hajduk Split, he is already among the most educated of West Ham's squad.

He has taken three highly academic subjects in a foreign language. He was brought up on the Norwegian coast at Haugesund, famous for its jazz festivals and its herring fleet and football has constantly disrupted his studies.

"I was in Abu Dhabi with the Manchester City squad and I got an email on my phone and it was the school sending me a past paper to study when I was on the bus," he laughed. "On the bus!"

His father, Frode, knew Manchester from business trips, which may be why Martin ended up there rather than in London or Madrid. "But I found it very tough in my first year here," he said. "City wanted me to succeed, I wanted to succeed very badly. There was pressure and sometimes I needed this school as a refugeW.

"Whenever I went away with Manchester City or Norway, I just brought loads of books. If I was stuck I would take a photograph of the problem and email it to one of the teachers and they would photograph the response and email it back. You do have time to get an education and become a footballer. People who say they can't are just lazy, in my opinion."

You wonder how many young English or Irish-born footballers would think that. You wonder too how many would do what Samuelsen did when he realised City would be releasing him: he travelled on his own to Italy and Germany to speak to Roma and Schalke before settling for West Ham..

In an era when the Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe could advertise for a personal assistant to fill his fridge, feed his pets and choose his clothes, you wonder how many hopefuls have the self-reliance of Samuelsen.

Irish Independent

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