Not every 16-year-old gets the chance to play with professional footballers at the top of their game, but then not every 16-year-olds can stop a shot like Moville’s Peter Burke.
Next month, the Inishowen schoolboy will be waving his family goodbye to sign a three year contract with Premier League side Sunderland.
Four weeks ago, Burke travelled to the English side where he trained as normal and played one game, then to his delight three days later he received a call offering him a two year scholarship playing in goals for their Under 18 side.
“I couldn’t believe, I knew I played ok during the match, but I didn’t think it went brilliant,” explained Peter. “When I went over I was nursing an injury and missed the first game, but they were very good to me and have a really good medical team.”
Despite being an Arsenal fan at heart, the Moville goalkeeper is relishing the chance to play at the North East club.
“They all seem like lovely people, they’re like a big family. When I was over there I met John O’Shea and Martin O’Neill. I was shaking when I met Martin, he is a legend and a really good manager.
“John O’Shea seemed really nice. I was talking to him, he asked where I was from and as soon as I said Donegal, he said straight away, ‘oh you must be a goalkeeper then’. He even stole a piece of my toast during breakfast at the training centre, but I let him away with it,” laughed Peter.
As well as the former Manchester United defender, Peter is looking forward to meeting Derry man and Sunderland star James McClean.
“I’ve heard he’s really nice and still comes home a lot so I can’t wait to meet him and get talking. I’ll be watching him at the Euros now and hoping he gets playing as he is a top class player.”
Proud mum Sharon said the whole family is over the moon for her son.
“We just want to shout it from the rooftops at this stage,” said Sharon. “When he first started playing football I never thought anything about it, I didn’t think this type of thing happened to people like us, I thought it only happened to people on TV.
“But as he got older I knew he would play for someone big, and I’m really glad it has been Sunderland.”
She added: “Everyone at Peter’s club, Moville Celtic, are delighted for him as well they are really supportive. I suppose Peter getting this chance might help put Moville on the map and it shows the other kids up there what is possible if you work hard.”
The Moville mother says she will miss her eldest son so much when he leaves for Sunderland, but admits she will not cry in front of him.
“Peter has to leave school now and there will be tutors working with them every day. I keep telling him, the hard work is only beginning, but there is no doubt, he is getting an amazing opportunity.”
But the hard work does not scare the young Moville man.
“I’m not going over there thinking it will be an easy ride, I’ve climb this high and now I just have to keep climbing. Sunderland have signed nine new young players this year, so I know there will be a lot of competition and I will have to work hard for my spot.
“I’m not allowed to play football in case I get injured before I go over, but I’ve been training hard with Harry McQuillian at his gym in Moville so I’m ready for the hard work. I just hope I can stick it out and not get too homesick.”
To celebrate Peter’s success the whole family will not be heading of to Majorca on holidays for a week before enjoying a big family dinner and get together at the bowling alley before Peter and Sharon have to head off to Sunderland at the beginning of July.