He cut his teeth on footy fields throughout the Bay of Plenty but Whakatāne's Jamie Searle is now playing on the hallowed turf of Villa Park in the United Kingdom.

Searle, 18, has just signed a one-year contract with English professional football club Aston Villa after a successful trial that extended from an initial 10 days to four-and-a-half weeks.

At almost two metres tall, its unsurprising Searle is a goalie.

According to former coach Sam Wilkinson from Melville United in Hamilton, having a "monster" frame certainly lends a hand to being a keeper but Searle, he said, has all the

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