Jonny James will achieve a lifetime’s ambition by playing at Wembley Stadium next month on a day when he hopes to reignite his football career.
The 26-year-old from Wantage has played his way through to the final stages of the Budweiser Open Trials, a competition designed to give footballers aged over 25 a chance to parade their skills in front of club scouts in the hope of making a late switch to a professional career.
James, a full back for Uhlsport Hellenic League club Milton United, will get the chance to impress as one of 34 finalists at Wembley on Monday, April 13 – the day after the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Wigan at the famous stadium.
As part of his prize for battling through two qualifying stages of the competition, he will be attending that semi-final – hospitality and all – and then staying overnight at a neighbouring hotel on the eve of his big day.
“I’m still buzzing,” said James, who as a youngster, was a member of the Oxford Academy, under current Oxford United caretaker boss Mickey Lewis, and harboured hopes of becoming a professional.
“It never quite worked out, but now I’ve got a second chance,” said the full back, who has spent his football life with Wantage and Milton, and works in the building trade.