Every young footballer dreams of playing for their boyhood team but not everyone can make it and a lack of focus on education can sometimes leave academy players without the support they need after leaving a club.

Players are now encouraged to go abroad to develop their trade, but is the quality of coaching better? In America the facilities and stadiums for college sides provide the best support possible for rising stars.

Chester-born goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland experienced under-21s football in England with Manchester United but is now enjoying life in America where he combines his journalism studies at East Tennessee State University with playing for the NCAA Division One side East Tennessee State Buccaneers.

A former pupil at Christleton High School, Sutherland joined Crewe Alexandra aged seven before moving to Manchester United at the age of 12, spending the next seven years with the Premier League giants.

Sutherland explained: "My time at Crewe was great for me. It developed me technically with the support of some incredible coaches. It was the building blocks for me as a player.

"Moving to Manchester United was a dream, it was my team that I supported. I felt very proud. My fondest memories must be playing in the FA Youth Cup, it was my first experience of playing in big stadiums.

"I was trained with the first-team and learned from them and that was a moment that I will never forget. These experiences developed me more professionally.

"You could learn from the older players and play in very competitive environments. I believe it is important for all young players to learn this at a young age.

"Obviously I was gutted when my contract did not get renewed. However I do not regret anything that I did there and believe I gave 110% in everything that I did.

"The move to America has been great for me. I wanted to get an education and still be able to play."

Not all players or even people in general find moving abroad easy but Sutherland insists that he is loving life across the Atlantic.

Sutherland said: "This season was great for me as a freshman. I found it challenging, dealing with a busy football season and my studies.

"I love life out here. The lads and coaching staff on the team are brilliant and I have made many friends at the university and won three personal accolades in my first year: All Southern Conference (SoCon) Freshman Goalkeeper of the Year; All SoCon Second Team of the Year; and All SoCon Tournament Team of the Year.

"My hopes for the future are to continue three more years of collegiate sports, coming out with a degree in journalism and then to progress further in my career as a professional footballer or if that does not occur, to find my way into the world of sports reporting or broadcasting.

"Ideally my future lies within sports. I would not have moved out to America if I did not see myself playing the game anymore, I still am ambitious about playing at a high level.

"It is a great standard out in the States, something that immediately surprised me as soon as I got there. There is much more emphasis on the sports science side of the game and 'building an athlete' as it were, but I'm lucky enough to be under a good coaching staff and training staff too."

Sutherland is well placed to comment on the different approaches to player development in America and England.

Supporters of the US college system, in which most players complete their studies before being drafted to professional teams, believe it creates well-rounded individuals and provides career opportunities should playing professionally not work out.

Critics of the English approach, which is perceived as more football-focused, argue that while that helps the elite, those who do not make it are left without much to fall back on, although in recent years clubs have made big strides in improving education programmes.

"The youth system in England and much of the world require a lot from kids in their teenage years, it’s mostly all or nothing," Sutherland said.

"Kids that want to be professionals in football often reject their education and put all their eggs in one basket. This can be dangerous, as it is shown that the majority of them won't go on to have the ambitions that they hoped for at a young age.

"I'd agree the English system typically produces much more technical players and their football knowledge is usually superior, being immersed in it for such a long time.

"I think the American collegiate system is perfect for me, it lets me train at a high level while maintaining my studies, and it is difficult to say which system is superior.

"Going back to full time education and combining it with a similar training schedule that I was used to back home is challenging but very rewarding. It is a testament to all student-athletes that thrive on the field and in the classroom.

"I believe the traditional English system is proven to enhance all-rounded footballers, but it is typically a small minority that go on in the game and the rest are left behind. This is where the American system can give those that don't make it to the highest heights the opportunity to do something better in life."

Jonny Sutherland in action for East Tennessee State Buccaneers
Jonny Sutherland in action for East Tennessee State Buccaneers

When young footballers are released from clubs, the traditional move is to try and make it at another club, often lower down the pyramid, while some pack in the game altogether and focus on alternative careers.

Sutherland admitted that thought crossed his mind but the move to America has rekindled his passion for football and he reckons more players should consider heading abroad to continue their careers.

He said: "I had almost a year off football due to visa complications. When I was released I did have thoughts of giving it all up, but I have found my spark and love for football again.

"It is totally different to what I was used to, but I am enjoying playing again, which is the main reason I want to play football: for the enjoyment of the game.

"I strongly think academy players should consider the American approach. I know a few lads from England that I have played with or against doing the same as I am and they all have the same beliefs as myself.

"I think a lot of young lads that get released give up on the game completely, but there are options to consider out there that can greatly benefit them either in football or in another career choice and lifestyle."