Jassem Sukar

Young Guns: Jassem Sukar

by Stuart Vose

First-year scholar in this week's spotlight.

Young defender Jassem Sukar is chasing the dream of becoming the latest player from junior club Marton FC to make it in professional football.

The Teesside outfit are a youth football powerhouse and boast current Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole amongst their alumni.

Meanwhile the likes of Stewart Downing and Jonathan Woodgate have gone on to play for England after representing the club as youngsters.

Sukar, who turned 16 in June, joined Marton at the age of 11 after being released by Middlesbrough and had a successful stay before joining Sunderland.

“I was released by Middlesbrough on Mother’s Day, which wasn’t great for my mam,” Sukar recalled.

“Both her and my dad told me that that was just the beginning because I was still young.

“I joined Marton and won the league in my first season.

We are so lucky. Thousands of other kids up and down the country dream of what we have. It’s up to us to make the most of it

- Jassem Sukar

“Eventually I went back to Middlesbrough for a trial, which didn’t work out, and when I came to Sunderland in the under-15s everyone was so welcoming.”

The tall defender impressed after joining the Black Cats and was identified as one of the players to be offered two-year scholarships to start in July 2012.

And ‘Jazz’ will never forget the day he took the next step on his footballing journey.

“I was in school and I got a text from my dad,” he explained.

“I ran down to my head of year straight away, who supports Sunderland, and he jumped up when he read the text.

“Then we both went to my headteacher – she is a die-hard Sunderland fan as well. Everyone was so pleased.”

Along with his team-mates, Sukar is settling in well and has now tasked himself with breaking into Craig Liddle’s under-18 side.

Liddle has a squad of 24 to choose from but has made it clear that every player – regardless of age – has a claim to a place if their performances merit it.

“We’re doing a lot training-wise, but we know that will benefit us in the future when it comes to the games,” Sukar said.

“At Sunderland we all know that if we train hard we will be in with a chance of getting a game on a Saturday.

“Some clubs just use second-years the majority of the time, but here the first years have a chance to get a lot of game time too, if we have done well enough.”

Regardless, though, the youngster is living the dream and is keen to make sure he makes the most of an opportunity handed only to a very select few.

“Sometimes we take things from granted, but the coaches help us to realise what we’ve got,” he said.

“We are so lucky. Thousands of other kids up and down the country dream of what we have. It’s up to us to make the most of it.”