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Club news

Aspiring journalist Antonio hoping to write the headlines


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Having spent 11 years in the academy ranks at AFC Bournemouth, Antonio Diaz hoped he would one day realise his dream of playing for the Cherries in the Premier League.

Raised and schooled in Dorchester, Diaz joined the club as an eight-year-old and showed enough potential as he progressed through the age groups to win a scholarship in 2016.

In his first season, the attacking midfielder played a starring role for Carl Fletcher’s under-18s as they were crowned champions of Merit League Two and won the EFL Youth Alliance Cup.

He scored in the final as the Cherries came from behind to beat Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium, a memorable conclusion to his first season as a full-time footballer.

However – and like hundreds of other young scholars across the country – Diaz’s hopes of securing a professional contract were dashed when he was released just 12 months later.

While some of his team-mates celebrated their first deals, Diaz was left to contemplate a life outside football and a door soon opened into a career in sports journalism.

Diaz, whose intake included the likes of Kyle Taylor, Nnamdi Ofoborh, Charlie Seaman and Sam Sherring, is currently 18 months into a three-year degree course in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University.

And as part of his studies, he returned to Vitality Stadium on Tuesday and was in the press box to cover the Cherries’ 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion.

Diaz, whose father Tony made more than 400 appearances for Dorchester Town, also plays part-time for Wimborne Town in the Southern League.

THEN: Antonio Diaz in action for AFC Bournemouth under-18s in 2017

Discussing his time at AFC Bournemouth, Diaz told afcb.co.uk: “It’s every young boy’s dream to be a professional footballer and I was no different.

“I started playing here for the under-eights and remember we only used to have one floodlight for training sessions!

“It was a very different club then to the one it is now. At that age, you just love playing football and I didn’t know any different.

“I just wanted to improve every day and to become a better footballer. I enjoyed my time coming through and made some good friends.

“I remember watching the Grimsby game from the Family Stand when we pulled off the Greatest Escape. That was a great moment for the club.

“I saw lots of changes down the years. The academy used to have mostly local players from Dorset but now they come from all over the country.

“Eddie Howe was one of our age group coaches in the centre of excellence for a couple of weeks before he became manager.

“Jack Simpson lives ten minutes down the road from me and I lived with Gavin Kilkenny when we were scholars.

“I played with people like Sam Surridge, Nnamdi Ofoborh, Kyle Taylor, Charlie Seaman and Dinesh Gillela and it’s great to see they have all gone on to do so well.

“They are all great lads and we had fun, working hard to try to reach the next step which every kid wants to achieve. I loved every minute of it.”

AND NOW: Antonio Diaz celebrates a goal for Wimborne (picture: Steve Harris)

Diaz added: “It was a hard moment when I was told I wouldn’t be offered anything. I was here for 11 years and spent a large part of my life playing for the club.

“But it’s one of those things. You can’t dwell on it, life’s a lot bigger than football. Although it’s your dream, you have to realise it’s not the end.

“The main thing is to stay positive. Just because they didn’t think it was right for me here doesn’t mean everyone thinks the same. It’s all about opinions.

“After I found out, I trained with a few clubs but didn’t find anything. I remember speaking to my mum about what I was going to do.

“She asked if I had thought about going to university and we looked at a few courses at Bournemouth because I wanted to stay local.

“I found a course I really liked the look of so contacted them to let them know my situation. Before I knew it, I had been accepted and went from being a full-time footballer to going to university in the space of two months.

“I would love to work in the media, preferably covering football. I’ve been doing some football documentaries at university and really enjoy that.

“My grandparents are Spanish and I love Spanish football as well. I follow Sid Lowe who is Sky Sports’s football correspondent in Spain and I like the idea of that as well.

“But no matter what happens, my dream is still to become a professional footballer and that will never change, not until I have to retire anyway!”

It was a hard moment when I was told I wouldn’t be offered anything.

Antonio Diaz

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