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Goalie Morris eyes World Cup

By Jake Beleski

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A medical issue forced Scott Morris to become a goalkeeper when he was an aspiring young footballer, and now he has moved one step closer to reaching his long-term goals.

The 16-year-old Rathkeale College student suffered from Sever’s disease, a painful bone disorder that results from inflammation of the growth plate in the heel.

The injury forced him to move into goal, and now he has been selected as a goalkeeper in the extended New Zealand under-17 men’s World Cup squad.

Scott Morris. PHOTO/JAKE BELESKI

The World Cup is to be held in India in October.

For Morris, it was the culmination of two years of hard work.

“I was ecstatic when I found out . . . it’s been a long build-up because I got an email about two years ago about it, and then there was just nothing for ages.

“I just thought I hadn’t made it but then the news came through and it was a great feeling.”

New Zealand qualified for the tournament courtesy of their dominant performance at the Oceania qualifiers, a competition Morris was not a part of.

But due to the need for three keepers in the squad selected to head to India, Morris was handed a lifeline.

“They’re taking three goalkeepers to India, and there was only two that went to the Oceania qualifiers,” he said.

“One of the goalkeepers may not be able to go, so there could be two spots up for grabs.”

There are two training camps — in April and July — before the final squad is announced.

Rathkeale College first XI coach, Steve Coleman, said Morris’s selection was a great sign for the school.

“We’re getting stronger and stronger, and hopefully the stronger we get, the more players we can get into these teams.

“With the academy beginning, we’ve got more players of Scott’s calibre coming through.”

The academy he speaks of is current Wairarapa United and former Wellington Phoenix player Paul Ifill’s full-time football academy, established in 2015 and based at the school.

Morris’ success was down to his hard work and perseverance, Coleman said.

“The work he’s put in the last 12 months to get from where he was to where he is now, is a testament to how much closer to the group he is now than perhaps he was 12 months ago — he works really hard.”

Wairarapa United coach, Phil Keinzley, has selected Morris in his Central League squad for the upcoming season.

He said Morris’ potential made him one of the region’s most exciting talents.

“Scott is the best goalkeeping prospect I have seen in Wairarapa over the last 20 years.

“He’s a good listener, commits himself hard in training, is extremely fit and is a smart distributor of the ball.

“We’re very lucky to have him on board.”

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