FA Cup glory spurs on Saker

LEISTON winger Blake Saker says that the Suffolk club's fairytale run to the FA Cup first round has reignited his own confidence that Tottenham Hotspur were wrong to drop him as a teenager.

Stuart Watson

LEISTON winger Blake Saker says that the Suffolk club's fairytale run to the FA Cup first round has reignited his own confidence that Tottenham Hotspur were wrong to drop him as a teenager.

The right-midfielder turns 27-years-old tomorrow but the party will have to wait as his side prepare for another giant-killing feat against Blue Square North side Fleetwood Town at Victory Road.

And the monumental run of the step five non-league club - who are easily the lowest ranked team left in the competition - has proved something of a therapeutic experience for Saker, who was dropped by Spurs at the age of 19.


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“It's almost as if you are constantly trying to prove to yourself that they were wrong,” said Saker, who lives in Ipswich.

“There is a lot of luck in football. Sometimes it just comes to whether your face fits at the time.”

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The day after finishing his last exam at East Bergholt High School, Saker left home to live in digs in North London and join Tottenham's YTS (Youth Training Scheme).

During his three years at the club Saker played alongside the likes of Peter Crouch and Ledley King in the youth side that made the final of the Dallas Cup against Brazilian giants Corinthians.

But, while the aforementioned players have gone on to become England internationals, Saker was discarded by the Premier League club after three years at the age of 19.

Unsuccessful spells followed at Barnet and Luton, poor timing seeing both clubs sack their managers soon after Saker's trial, before he moved over to America to play for A-League side Minnesota Thunder.

Homesickness saw that move come to an end after just six months and, upon his return, Saker found himself totally disenchanted with the game.

“When I came back from America I played a few games for Capel Plough but I wasn't really interested in playing any more,” admitted Saker.

Spells at Needham Market and Stanway Rovers came and went before a move to Leiston finally saw Saker fall back in love with football. In his first season, the club were promoted to the Ridgeons League Premier Division and, although numerous offers have come in from higher level clubs in the region since then, Saker has stayed loyal to the club for six seasons.

Such loyalty has been rewarded this season with Leiston's success in all competitions. At present the club could go top of the league with their games in hand and are still in the FA Vase and Ridgeons League Cup, however, it is their dream run to the FA Cup first round which has got everyone talking.

Saker said: “We have got a great chance on Saturday. We are expecting them to be a physical team but people know us as a footballing team and that's how we will continue to play.”

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