Cromer football star’s American dream under threat - for the second time
A talented teenage footballer is trying to keep a stateside scholarship dream alive - just a year after it was shelved because of a serious injury.
Theo Stamatopoulos was unable to take up a prestigious place at a New York college when he suffered a collapsed lung during a match at Easton College, near Norwich.
Now, after fighting back from two operations and a series of subsequent lung collapses, the 19-year-old from Lynewood Road, Cromer, is ready to take up the deferred place - but is struggling to find the cash to fund it.
The knife-edge situation began in March 2010 when Theo was injured.
Theo's mum Siobhan Webster said: 'He was playing football for Easton College in March 2010. He normally comes home every weekend, but he called to say he was staying over on the Friday to play a match.
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'Then I got a phone call to say that he had an accident during the match, when a lad from the other team crashed into him and he got a collapsed lung.
'He should have been going to Genosee Community College in Batavia, near New York, in August 2010.'
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The accident was the beginning of a nightmare few months for Theo and his family. His lung collapsed eight times over a few months, while he eventually had to have two operations.
And he was advised by specialists not to fly across the Atlantic to take up his college place because his condition meant he could die or be seriously injured by the cabin pressure.
Mrs Webster said: 'Every time it collapsed, it set him back eight weeks. We had to contact the college. They were upset that he couldn't come, but said they would hold his place.
'They offered that he could start in January this year, but the consultant wanted him to have a complete year free before he went. He was gutted.
'What made it harder was that two of his friends did fly out then to take up their places. So he's a year behind them. But he should be taking up the place this August.'
While the problem was down to the injury last year, this time the possible stumbling block is finances.
Mrs Webster said: 'We had some family from abroad who were going to help finance the scholarship, but that's gone to pot unfortunately. So it's a real struggle to fund it.
'He's put his car up for sale and is trying to raise the money. It's such a fantastic opportunity and he's been done out of it once. We'd hate to see it happen twice.'
Theo said: 'When I first did the injury, I thought I had enough time to recover, so I wasn't too worried. When I did it the second time and it was too late to go, it was really hard to take.'
He said he was 'more excited this year than last year' and more mentally prepared, but added: 'I would be quite devastated if I missed out again. I'd probably never go.'
The two-year course costs �9,000 per year, payable in instalments each term.
? If you can help, call Theo on 01263 512307 or 07776 361724.
? Another North Norfolk teenager is flying across the Atlantic in the summer after winning an academic/sports scholarship at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia.
Wyatt Hill, who lives in Aylsham and plays for Cromer Town FC, is currently in the final year of his BTec national diploma in business and retail.
When he flies to the US, he will be looking to study a business management major.
He said: 'The great thing about playing in America is that you get to train six days a week on some of the best facilities in the world, and at the end of it you come out with a full degree, which will help me with my future career.'