WHEN Karwan Mohammed moved to Hartlepool from Kurdistan when he was just 10-years-old he couldn’t speak a word of English.
Now, eight years later, he is studying a foundation degree as well as establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Hartlepool’s Sunday league.
It’s a remarkable rise for the talented teenager, who grew up with the war in Iraq on his doorstep.
But Karwan is reluctant to rest on what he has already achieved, and dreams of becoming a professional footballer.
The 18-year-old has already been in contact with several football league clubs as he attempts to secure himself a trial.
And he’s been rubbing shoulders with some of the game’s biggest names.
Karwan got the chance to meet the manager of the team currently sat at the top of the Premier League table, Jose Mourinho, when he went to watch Chelsea in action at Newcastle United earlier this season and also met Mourinho’s former assistant and current Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka after Boro’s draw with Blackburn at the weekend.
But as much as the former St Helen’s Primary School and St Hild’s CE Secondary School student would love to achieve his dream of playing the game he loves for a living, he realises how difficult that is to achieve and has other ambitions such as teaching, coaching and sports therapy.
Taking up his story from when he moved to Hartlepool when his dad got a job in the town, Karwan said: “I couldn’t speak one word of English.
“I had to take my dictionary with me to school to translate just about every word the other children said to me,” he laughed.
It was during his time at secondary school when Karwan started taking his football seriously and realised he had a talent between the sticks.
He joined Seaton under 16s before establishing himself as the first choice goalkeeper for Hartlepool College of Further Education’s side when he moved there from secondary school. And it was one of his teachers at the college, Shaun Hope, who said he should join Hartlepool Sunday League side Supporters Athletic - and he’s never looked back.
His team are going well this season, currently sitting third in the Premier Division, six points off the top with a game in hand.
Karwan, who lives in the town centre area of Hartlepool with his parents Salam and Galawezh and brothers Shahban, 14, Razwan, 16, and Karzan, 21, said: “I love playing on a Sunday. We’ve got a good side and we’re going really well this season.
“I want to go as far as I can playing football and achieve as much as I can.
“I realise how difficult it is to make it to the top but the most important thing is to work as hard as I can in every element of my life.
“I would like to say a big thanks to everyone at the Supporters for giving me the opportunity to play, and also to Shaun Hope.”