Footballer hopes Wembley 'dream' can bolster Cambridge career
- Credit: PA
A footballer who played at Wembley Stadium for the first time in his career hopes this moment can improve his chances of a permanent spot at his boyhood club.
Lewis Simper from Ely played the full 90 minutes at the home of English football for Concord Rangers in their 1-0 defeat to Harrogate Town in the delayed 2019-20 FA Trophy final on Monday.
“It’s a real dream to play at Wembley and at this age, it makes it more special. It could not have gone any better,” he said.
Simper, 19, made eight appearances while on loan at the National League South club from Cambridge United this season, his most lucrative perhaps being at Wembley.
But despite no fans being allowed inside the ground due to Covid-19 restrictions, the teenager received messages of support from friends and family before and after the game.
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“It did lift me, especially as I knew they were watching,” he said.
“Without the fans, I think it had a slight impact as they let you know who you’re playing for.”
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After being loaned to Concord last year, Simper later returned to the Us before returning to Essex for the FA Trophy showpiece as the National League South season was curtailed due to the pandemic.
Tonia Simper, Lewis’ mum, hopes this experience can act as a platform for progress.
“He has gained valuable experience at higher level football, so hopefully he can use this to further his career,” she said.
“It was a proud moment for us to see him play at Wembley, although disappointing that we weren’t able to be there to share the experience with him.
“It was always his dream to one day play at Wembley, so it was a really special day for him.”
Simper is now looking to make himself a permanent fixture in Cambridge’s first-team plans.
Having made his first-team debut last September, he is ready to compete for a place in head coach Mark Bonner’s squad in the Football League.
“To make my professional debut was a dream come true, so my aim is to make my league debut for Cambridge,” Simper added.
“As long as I’m playing football, I’m happy, whether that’s on loan or at Cambridge.
“I think the aim is to come back next season even stronger and ready to fight for my place.”