Ex-Town star goes back to classroom

A FORMER Ipswich Town player has swapped his boots for books and gone back to the classroom to study for his A-levels.

James Hore

A FORMER Ipswich Town player has swapped his boots for books and gone back to the classroom to study for his A-levels.

When he was a youngster Aidan Collins had begun to make a name for himself as an upcoming talent with the Championship club, playing alongside the stars of today like Billy Clarke and Owen Garvan.

His big breakthrough came, when aged just 16, he came on as a second half substitute away to Derby County and was given the unenviable task of marking the legendary Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli .

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However, while others from the FA Youth Cup winning team of 2005 went onto bigger and better things within the game, it was not to be for Aidan who was forced into early retirement due to injury problems after just a handful of competitive matches for the Blues.

However, the youngster did not let the disappointment get him down and soon enrolled at Braintree College with the goal of achieving the A-level qualifications to take him onto university.

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This summer he successfully passed four AS Level exams, with A grades in Sociology and Sport & PE, as well as C grades in English Language/Literature and Law.

The 21-year-old who now plays his football for Maldon Town in the Ryman League will return to the college next month to complete his A-levels.

He said: “I signed a three-year contact with Ipswich after finishing my GCSEs and played five competitive matches with the team as centre half. I also had periods on loan to Stockport County and Wycombe Wanderers, but by then an ongoing tendonitis injury to my knee was affecting my fitness.”

“In the summer of 2007, at the age of 20, I made the decision to retire from professional football and set my sights on gaining a place at university and pursuing a career with different challenges.

“I was keen to continue my interest in sport and wanted to keep my options open so also chose AS English language/literature, law and sociology.

“After four years away from education it took time to get used to studying again but I am really enjoying the subjects, and the tutors and lecturers are great - very supportive.

“Next year I'll complete my A-levels and hope to build on my achievements so far. After college I plan to study for a degree in history or sociology and may eventually make a career in teaching.”

Aidan is still involved in sport and has gained various coaching qualifications.

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