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Chip off the old block

STANDING well over six feet at 16, it was safe to expect Paddy Johns' son to follow his father into rugby.

However, Chris Johns has chosen a different route to sporting prominence.

The youngster is on the books with Southampton, who are top of the English Championship, meaning that if things go to plan, Johns could end up playing in the Premier League. However, his father is grateful he is playing sport at all after serious knee problems when he was younger.

"Chris played rugby up until 11 but then he joined Lurgan Tigers playing football," said Johns.

"Unfortunately, he he had a problem with growing pains in his knees, a condition called Osgood-Schlatter disease, and it was very difficult to run.

"One of his teachers knew he had good hands and tried him out as a goalkeeper -- it was his only option to play sport. He took to it, was spotted and brought into the Southampton Academy.

"This is his first year so it's early days but he has settled in well and he loves it. It is a professional sport, a ruthless game, but he has got this opportunity to go over there and make the most of it. He is enjoying himself and that is the main thing."

Irish Independent