Only three seasons ago, young Portuguese athlete Sandro Semedo was studying his BTEC in sports and leisure with the Leyton Orient Trust (LOT) and playing matches against other colleges hoping that one day he would make it as a professional footballer.
Today he is part of the first team at Leyton Orient with over 25 appearances to his name and two goals.
Having played youth football in his birth country his dream was to play professionaly in England and with his father’s blessings, Sandro arrived in the UK in 2012 but had no luck at his first port of call Stoke City followed by rejection at Colchester United.
Having friends and some family located near to Leyton Orient, he decided to enrol onto the LOT college education scheme with some of his compatriots knowing that there was a chance of playing football alongside his study and it was then that Andy Edwards, now the first team coach, was made aware of the youngsters potential.
After being invited to train and play with the youth team at that time, Sandro soon impressed during 2015 and was elevated to the first team gaining a two year contract in the process!
This season, he started as left back for the first game of the campaign at Cheltenham and supplied the cross for the leagues quickest goal and has since reverted to his more familiar left midfield role.
This inspirational story hasn’t been lost on the Trust, and on many occasions over the past 18 months, Sandro has been asked to tell his story to schoolchildren, students and young people from the local community to help them focus and move towards realising their own dreams.
More recently, a group of the currnet LOT BTEC students made the short journey to the Leyton Orient training ground in Chigwell where they were met by an enthusiatic Sandro who toured them the facilty before sitting down to chat about his footballing journey and answer questions on what is needed to progress and maintain the high standards needed to be successful.
Lloyd Boateng, LOT tutor, commented afterwards, “The students were overwhelmed at the opportunity to go to the training ground and meet the footballers up close and personal. Many said they felt like pros for the time they got to be in the environment sitting around first team players.
“Sandro was excellent and the students listened intently to every word! His story is real and they really took notice of what he had to say.”
One of the fist year students, Marcelino, stated: “This experience has driven me to want to train more! I know I need to train and work harder to become a professional. It’s been really interesting and I enjoyed it a lot”.
Boateng added: “The visit to the training ground has been very aspirational for the level 1 group. Since the visit I have personally witnessed a change in the attitude of the class. We’d like to thank the club for hosting us and especially Sandro for his time and patience.”