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A foot in the door: Rutherford County teen heading to Premier League training academy

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Seventeen-year-old Koen Brewer is getting a rare shot to spend nine months at the Academy of West Ham United Football Club in hopes of getting a chance to be a professional soccer player.

“I’m not guaranteed anything more, right? This is just my way in, and it’s just about what I earn for myself with hard work with dedication to the sport in the months that I’m there,” Brewer said. “To see what else opens up.”

The Oakland High School junior is a defender and captain of the men’s team. Until recently, he planned to continue playing for his high school and club teams and hopefully go on to play at the collegiate level.

“That would’ve most likely been the last stop for me for soccer,” he said.

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However, that changed during a trip organized by Global Image Sports to visit West Ham, a part of the prestigious Premier League. Brewer said the trip was not meant to be a tryout, but after playing a few scrimmages, the coaches approached him.

“I just impressed them when I was there…’We will be in contact with you,'” he recalled the coaches saying. “‘We really liked what we saw him and want to see if maybe you’d be a good fit for this team.'”

After sending videos of himself playing and multiple hours of interviews about his life on and off the field — going so far as to ask him for his screen time on his phone — Brewer got the offer to go across the pond.

“It’s not something I ever expected for myself, but now it’s just about going and trying to enjoy it and do the very best that I can,” he said.

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Brewer’s coach, Jeffery Porter, said this opportunity is rare and he doesn’t know of other Americans accepted into the program. Since Brewer was accepted, Porter has been helping the teen with the logistics of the move, including graduating a year early.

“He’s the backbone of our team right now. He’s intellectual. His soccer IQ’s high. He is a leader at heart and continually makes good decisions both on and off the field,” Porter said.

The program starts in September, which gives Brewer an opportunity to finish out the season, attend graduation, and play a few more games with his teams in Tennessee.

“I’ll just be looking to enjoy it before going over there and seeking my own route, my own path,” he said.

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