An exciting summer lies ahead for Chester FC youth team forward Ollie Nugent after securing his plane ticket to Rio for this year’s Paralympic Games – and he admits he’s delighted to finally be able to share the news.
The 18-year-old, who has cerebral palsy following a stroke at birth, has been selected as part of a 14-man football team who will go for gold in the seven-a-side tournament .
The Birkenhead Sixth Form College student faced a multitude of challenges when he was a youngster, but has defied all the odds to play the game he adores after first joining Tranmere Rovers at the tender age of eight before switching to Chester.
And as he bids to become the first professional footballer with the condition, he admits he couldn’t be happier to be representing his country on the greatest stage of all.
"I’m feeling great,” said Nugent, who benefits from being a part of the SSE Next Generation scheme.
"It shows that my hard work has paid off, and I’m just relieved really.
"I got a phone call about a week ago but it was officially announced today. I’ve had lots of phone calls, texts and tweets since the news came out.
"It’s been quite hard keeping it quiet since I found out because I only told my close family, but I’ve just come back from Brazil so that has made it a bit easier.
"I’ve been out there with the Great Britain team, where we played a Brazilian team as well as doing a bit of sightseeing.
"It’s really whetted my appetite for the Paralympics now and made me very excited. It’s been a great experience playing in a different country with different fans and culture.
"It’s the best feeling ever representing your country, and it just shows that all the training has been worth it.
"We went to see the stadium that is being built and it made it all feel a lot more real. My parents are extremely pleased for me and are so proud of me."
Nugent had a successful 2015/16 season as part of the Blues completed a double, winning the North West Youth Alliance Premier Division title and NWYA Open Cup.
He scored against Oldham Athletic in the FA Youth Cup and made his senior debut against Hyde United in the Cheshire Senior Cup in January .
Nugent is one of seven players in the squad bound for Rio who helped England to a fifth place at last year's Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships.
They will be looking to improve on Great Britain’s seventh-placed finish at London 2012.
- SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen