Young midfielder steps into spotlight.
Promising youngster Callum Hope could have been plying his trade between the sticks had he stuck with one of his earliest footballing decisions.
The midfielder initially wanted to be a goalkeeper as a child but eventually changed his mind and went on star in defence before settling into his current midfield role.
Hope joined Sunderland as an under-15 having played an important role for a Fulwell side widely regarded as one of the best in the region.
I have had the experience of what it’s like to have football taken away from you, so I work my hardest in every training session and game
- Callum Hope
He played alongside current colleagues Ross Holland and Carl Lawson during an incredible 88-game unbeaten run which saw the youngsters sweep all before them.
“We had a brilliant team and the unbeaten run was unreal,” explained Hope, who is in the second year of his scholarship at the Academy of Light.
“I started out playing for them in defence but I played a friendly in midfield and that’s been my position ever since.
“As well as Ross and Carl, a few of the lads were at Darlington and a couple of others are at Carlisle, so they have been playing at a decent standard.
“I was scouted at under-15 level. Elliott Dickman was my first coach and I’ve been here ever since.
“I’ve learned a lot from everyone and I’m enjoying working under Craig Liddle and Robbie Stockdale. They both have so much experience and I have learned a lot."
Hope has had to battle all the way and has been unlucky with injuries.
He spent almost six months out with a knee problem while a member of the under-16 side before joining the club full-time.
And he then missed more than six months of last season after breaking his ankle during a game against Huddersfield Town.
“[2011-12] wasn’t the best season,” he admitted. “A tackle came in from the side and caught me.
“I’d never broken anything before so I didn’t know what it would feel like. I only knew when it was confirmed on the x-ray.
“Having to sit on the sidelines was horrible, especially as I’d had to do it for five and a half months the year before.
“I have had the experience of what it’s like to have football taken away from you, so I work my hardest in every training session and game.
“The older lads and the staff helped me while I was out and everyone was really supportive.”
He continued: “By the time I recovered from the injury the season was finished and it was too late.
“I had just been getting a run of games together and was starting to feel sharp again.”
Hope has returned stronger than ever after getting a solid pre-season under his belt.
He has featured regularly so far, chipping in with three goals including two in a recent come-from-behind win over Stoke City at the Academy of Light.
“I’ve absolutely loved it and I’m enjoying my football more than ever,” said Hope.
“Stoke was the standout game by far with the last-minute winner.
“The ball dropped behind me and I don’t know how I got the power behind it, but I thought I might as well shoot. It went perfectly into the top corner!
“It feels like we’re building momentum now. The lads are spot on and everyone is always buzzing before a game on a Saturday.”