Maitland footballer Chris Fayers has earned a youth contract at Spanish La Liga club CD Leganés after a roller-coaster 10-week European adventure.
Fayers left Northern NSW NPL club Maitland mid-season to travel overseas after winning a one-month scholarship with the Genova International Soccer School (GISS) from a trial at Newcastle university in May.
After a month of unsuccessful trials across two first-division Malta clubs, the 20-year-old went at his own expense to the GISS Academy in Madrid to continue training. He spent two weeks there before CD Leganés invited him to train and play with their under-21 side.
After a month, Fayers was offered a contract with the team, which play in the fifth division of Spanish football. He returned home this week to organise a student visa to return for their season, which finishes in May.
For the former Emerging Jets player, the contract at an elite club was satisfying given the sacrifices made this year.
Fayers, who played at Edgeworth before joining the Magpies, had deferred midway through his university physiotherapy degree to pursue his football ambitions.
“My coach is actually the director of the club,” Fayers said. “It only takes one good season really and I could be pushing up somewhere else.
“When they made the offer, it only took me a couple of hours to make up my mind. This is why I took the year off Uni and I’m just very fortunate to get my chance.
“They are helping out with food and board. It’s obviously not amazing pay, being my first contract, but it’s just a stepping stone to something better if I want to do the hard yards. It’s just the start.”
Meanwhile, Maitland have boosted their already strong defence with the signing of Hamilton right-back Tom Davies.
One of Olympic’s best this year, Davies will reunite with former Hamilton coach Michael Bolch at the Magpies in 2019.
Hamilton coach Peter McGuinness said Davies’ study schedule was set to restrict his training and he was a big loss for the club.
"He said he knows we're on three nights a week and he can't fulfil that commitment, and it's not fair on the other boys if I'm not training," McGuinness said.
Bolch welcomed the addition and said Davies would be able to train once or twice a week with the club.
At Charlestown, coach David Tanchevski has regained Nathan Archbold to replace the retiring Danny Ireland in goals next year.
Ireland came back to play this year but lasted only half the season before injury and illness struck again. Former Edgeworth gloveman Jim Fogarty came on board but was juggling Australian Rules commitments with Newcastle City. Archbold was at Charlestown before heading to Queensland for work last year and he played for Brisbane Strikers in the NPL.