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Wes Fogden - The Chance Of A Lifetime

Posted: Thu 06 Oct 2011

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Over the last few years the Football League has seen a host of players excel after spells in non-league.

Charlie Austin was a brick layer before going on to play Championship football and Brighton's Craig Mackail-Smith could be found working in Homebase only a few seasons ago.

But the Cherries latest non-league addition Wes Fogden's story goes beyond part-time jobs.

Aged just 18 the former Brighton trainee learned he had a tumour that was eating into his spine. He underwent successful surgery shortly after and spent three months in a restrictive body cast before working his way back to fitness.

Speaking after his first Cherries training session Fogden explained, "It was a scary period. The doctors and medical staff at Brighton didn't know if I was going to make it back to full fitness and it was worrying but I had an amazing surgeon and hospital staff. After that I went from strength to strength and there's been no reoccurrence.

"I was just feeling twinges in my back when I was doing weights and things like that. Then I was playing football on the beach and I felt my back go. I went back for pre-season and did some running but it wasn't happening. I went for scans and x-rays and it showed a tumour in the spine and it had broken some of the bone away. They removed it and did a bone graft. It was a tough time but I'm stronger for it," he said.

While some would be content with simply being healthy and comfortable in the surroundings of a Football League club, Fogden wasn't happy staying still. Following the sacking of Dean Wilkins the midfielder found his playing time limited and opted to join Dorchester Town.

A successful spell at the Blue Square Conference South outfit lead to a move to Havant and Waterlooville in 2008. And Fogden impressed at West Leigh Park, scoring 29 goals in just over 100 appearances.

Fogden's tale took another twist when he enrolled on the sports coaching and PE course at the University of Chichester. Combining the demands of the course and training for Havant was a challenge but the social side of university life added another dimension. But late night trips to clubs and kebab shops weren't on his agenda.

"To start off with I found it really difficult," he says of his studies. "We were doing a lot of practical work and then I would go to training in the evening. Obviously I didn't have much time to study as some of the others. I was older than most of the other students so I wasn't out all the time and football was my priority. I don't drink alcohol during the season.

"I know from my experience at Brighton that anything can happen in football. The university are working hard trying to sort something out to keep my credits up and I can still do it part-time. Even if it takes a few more years then I still hope to have a degree at the end of it," he added.

Handed a three year contract by the Cherries the 23-year-old is eager to follow in the footsteps of Marvin Bartley, Liam Feeney and Anton Robinson. "It's the chance of a lifetime and I didn't know if it was going to come along. It's a massive boost. I didn't even dream of signing for another pro club while I was at university and now I've got the chance I just want to take it."

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