American dream as young Hartlepool footballer wins US scholarship

Matthew Ridley receiving his second England Colleges national team
Matthew Ridley receiving his second England Colleges national team

A promising young footballer is soon due to be living the American dream after winning a scholarship to the USA.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew Ridley from Hartlepool is to take up a four-year scholarship to play soccer and study in South Carolina from August.

As well as being captain of Hartlepool Sixth Form College’s men’s team, he has also captained the ECFA England Colleges Football Team.

Matthew, of Rift House, said: “It’s going to be quite daunting at first moving away from family but it is an experience I would not have been able to have here.

“It has allowed me to get a free degree, travel the world and play against better players.

“It also puts me in the shop window for hopefully going professional after.”

As well as playing football, Matthew will study Business Administration when he enrols at Lander University which he chose after receiving around 10 different offers.

His coach at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, Lee Bullock, said it is a great opportunity for Matthew.

Lee, who previously played for Hartlepool United, said: “It is a brilliant achievement.

“The facilities and the way they train out there it is almost like a professional club.

“It opens up many opportunities to potentially play out there.

“I know lads myself who have done it and they have loved it.

“He is an excellent footballer and has an excellent attitude.”

Matthew, a centre back, recently received his second England cap to mark his second season representing country.

As part of the England Colleges team he has competed with the best youth talent from countries including Australia, Romania and Italy where he got to travel.

It has also been a successful season on the pitch for the Hartlepool Sixth Form College side.

They currently sit top of the North East Colleges league, and next Wednesday they hope to lift the league cup trophy.

They take on Sunderland College at Gateshead International Stadium in the final.

Lee added: “It will be the first time they will have played in a big stadium so there is a bit of pressure on them.

“It has been a good season. They are a really good, honest bunch of lads and I will be sad to lose them in a couple of weeks.”