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Teen star showcases talent on Aussie return


IT took three years for Ben Folami to return to Australia, but now the Ipswich Town teenager is coming up home for the second time in the space of a month after impressing for the Young Socceroos.The Sydney product, who left Australia for England at 15 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer, was among the stand outs at an Australian under-20 camp that concluded in Gosford last week.And with the blessing of English second-tier club Ipswich, Folami will again return home ­ – this time to the Sunshine Coast -­ when the Ante Milicic-coached Young Socceroos again gather at the end of this month in their ongoing preparations for the upcoming AFC under 19 championships in Indonesia.“It’s been my first time back in Australia after three years, and it’s good to be here,” the 19-year-old striker said.“Getting a call up took some time, I thought that it might have come a bit quicker … but I’m glad that it’s happened now.”Folami signed his first professional contract in May when Ipswich offered him a three-year deal.It was a continuation of a journey that started in 2015 when he joined the Tractor Boys as a scholar.Folami caught the attention of then Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy, who had seen a video of the youngster’s exploits with the Sutherland Sharks.“Mick really liked me and he got me over there for a trial, they wanted me, and I signed,” Folami said.

“I’m grateful that my family made such a big sacrifice for me by moving over with me.“It would have been tough by myself. Everyone’s more serious there and there are more emotions. It takes time to get used to it.“It’s a lot more cutthroat there. If they don’t think you’re up to it, or good enough, you’re gone.“But I have no regrets at all. I’m happy to be in England where the standard is higher and there are more opportunities.”Folami, who made a handful of first-team appearances for Ipswich last season, was close to a loan move before he and Ipswich decided it was in the best interest of both parties that he went into camp with the Young Socceroos.“I’m committed to playing for Australia. It’s the only country I’ve ever wanted to play for,” said Folami, who through his father could have pledged his allegiance to Nigeria.“I back myself to do well (with the Young Socceroos) because of everything I’ve done in England.”Get ready for cricket like never before. FREE Sport HD + Entertainment until the first 4K cricket ball as part of 3 months free on a 12 month plan. SIGN UP TODAY. T&Cs apply.


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