Hallam’s hope in striking distance
HE WOULD HAVE lived in England for two decades by the summer of 2014.But when Russell Hope supports the Three Lions at the next World Cup it will be for a different 20 year-old commitment.At the age of 16 now, Russell’s son Hallam is no different from the average English teenager with a dream of representing the national squad at football’s biggest stage.Where he differs, however, is that unlike millions of those daydreaming teens, Hallam is actually good enough to turn those aspirations into reality.At least according to England’s soccer brain trust, which has made the younger Hope a regular fixture on the national Under-16 squad for the last year, where the team has competed at two tournaments recently.And for their faith in the Bajan citizen?Hallam more than justified his selection, kicking off the side’s campaign at the Montaigu Tournament in France with a dramatic double against Ukraine in England’s 3-1 group stage victory back in March.The gifted forward didn’t score again in the tournament but the young Lions didn’t need him to in their march toward the final, and that early performance is certain to have set tongues wagging from London to Leeds.“I always wanted to become a footballer because I just wanted to be like [David] Beckham when I was younger,” recalled the junior Hope.Wayne Rooney, England’s renowned balding striker, probably is the more fitting career path for Hallam to follow though – and not just because of his position.Rooney was an Everton youth striker turned Manchester United marksman.Hope is an Everton youth striker hoping to turn Manchester United marksman.“I would love to someday play for the team I’ve always supported, Manchester United,” said the young Manchester resident.At City firstHe has already appeared for Manchester though, but it’s the rival City and not United that Hallam started his early youth days before switching over to the Lancashire-based Everton.However, to mirror Rooney, Hope must first make Everton’s senior side, where the national forward first made his mark in 67 appearances.But Hallam’s professional career at the Blues seems to be a mere formality.“I got my pro contract already,” revealed Hallam, “but I can’t sign it until I’m 17.“I can’t wait, though, because I won’t think of it as a job. It will be like getting paid for what you love doing.”Hallam wasn’t even the first one to realise this is what he would love doing, but rather Russell, who spotted his son’s undying devotion to the sport the minute the younger Hope learned to run.“I remember playing with him in the backyard and from a very early age he would kick the ball in the same running stride it took for him to get to the ball,” remembered Russell of Hallam growing up.“Little things like that I noticed with him and he would keep playing all the time but as he got older and he realised I wasn’t as keen about playing football, he would bring over his friends next door and continue playing football. I knew that this was his love.“And I’m very proud and I just can’t believe it. You see something just happening right in front of your eyes and you go ‘whoa!’ ” he added.