Lincoln United youngsters Conner Robinson and Callum Ward are proving that there is life after professional football as they strive to secure promotion for the Whites from the Evo-Stik Division One (South) League this season.
Striker Robinson scored on his debut as a 16-year-old for Lincoln City and two weeks’ later scored a late winner for the Imps at Gateshead.
Twenty-one-year-old central defender Ward turned down a contract with the Imps and opted for university and a career in teaching.
Both now play a major part in the Whites’ quest for success.
Robinson said:”My career started off with a bang.
“I was given a chance by Lincoln City when I was 16, scored on my debut and won the Man of the Match award.
“I did really well the following season although injury struck me.
“Being a young lad I found it frustrating being in and out of the team all the time.
“I moved to North Ferriby for four months but that didn’t really work out as injuries limited my game time.
“I fell out of love with the game, which was disheartening as I had always had the eagerness and hunger to play.
“Whites’ boss Sam Wilkinson rang me and gave me the opportunity to play at Ashby Avenue.
“I literally live over the road from the ground, got back into it and started banging the goals in.
“I am back loving the game and my ambition this season is to score 20 plus goals.
Callum Ward played for Lincoln City Under 9s and stayed at Sincil Bank for 10 years before turning down a professional contract.
He said: “It was probably the toughest decision of my life at the time.
“When I joined, Lincoln City were a League Two club but later were in the depths of the Conference so I thought getting a degree was the best option.
“I’ve got Lincoln in my blood and so far I have played 130 games at Ashby Avenue and I am still only 21.
“The semi-professional game suits my situation as I can carry on full-time work with the Lincolnshire FA before I start my Master’s degree next year.
“We have had some good workouts in the warm up games and I feel I have been tested.
“Reaching the play-offs is a minimum this season. It is expected and not just a target.”
Boss Sam Wilkinson is full of praise for the former Imps’ youngsters. He said: “Conner has the knack of poopping up and scoring goals on a regular basis and those players are hard to find.
“We still expect a little more from him and he expects more from himself.
“I really want to see him in the League’s top scorer charts.
“Callum is a very experienced player and for such a young lad shows tremendous consistency which is a delight for any manager.
“All the lads like ‘Wardy’. He is good fun to be around.”
Next up: Gainsborough Trinity tonight (Thursday) at home KO 7.45pm