|LESTON HOPES TO MAKE SUNDERLAND RETURN|
|After impressing during five days' training with Sunderland, hot Caribbean prospect Leston Paul has revealed how landing a contract under Roy Keane at the Stadium of Light would fulfil a lifetime's ambition.
The gifted central midfielder is regarded in his Trinidad & Tobago homeland as one of the brightest talents in the country, where he captains the Under-17s.
And he is known to have been one of the eight players to have caught the eye of the Black Cats' coaching team, with Keane hinting that a couple of them could be invited back.
The group headed back across the Atlantic yesterday morning, having spent a week on Wearside trying to prove they were worthy of a contract at Sunderland.
And, although nothing has been decided yet, Paul would love to be given the chance to join the Premier League outfit where compatriots Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards and Dwight Yorke all ply their trade.
"The staff have said little to us but there is a possibility that one or two of us will be back," said Paul. "The Premier League is more physical and I know I have to work hard on my size, but I should be able to compete in the Premier League because right now I'm mentally ready for it. A bit more training, experience and we will all be ready to compete.
"Hopefully something will happen because my dream is to play in England. Being brought up in the Caribbean my dream is to play for a world-class club.
"Right now my dream is to play for Sunderland. I want another chance to come back and impress the coaches and come back here and sign a contract here."
Paul is widely regarded in the Caribbean as a player with the potential to become a star on the European stage.
But when John Barnes selected the eight players to take the trip to Sunderland as part of the Digicel Kick Start Football Clinics, he was always confident that they could mix it technically with the best Sunderland's Academy had to offer.
Along with Paul (T&T), Barnes sent Joseph Guemsley (Haiti), Gerard Williams (St. Kitts), Renaud Brisley (Haiti), Akeem Brown (Jamaica), Andrew Murray (Guyana), Devaughn Elliott (St. Kitts) and Emilio Limon (Suriname) to the North-East.
And Limon, from Suriname, has outlined a desire to follow in the footsteps of former Middlesbrough striker Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink to one of the region's top-flight clubs.
Hasselbaink, born in the Caribbean before moving to Holland, is one of Suriname's most high-profile sporting exports along with AC Milan's Clarence Seedorf.
"My biggest dream is to come over to Europe and play and now that I have met Roy Keane one of my biggest dreams has come true," said the 19-year-old. "Hopefully another dream will come true to become a pro player here.
"Hasselbaink and Seedorf are my heroes. Clarence is my main idol because when you look back at the things he has met in his life, when he was left out of the Holland squad at times, he's someone I respect. Any disappointments I have I try to think what Clarence might have done.
I have not had disappointment so, far, I have had a happy life."
When Keane met the teenagers from the Caribbean last week, he reflected on his playing days with Manchester United.
"He gave us advice and when I go home I will take this advice back to Suriname, and tell my friends. I will tell them that I spoke with Roy Keane," said Limon, who plays for the oldest club in his country, Robin Hood.
"I haven't heard if any of us are going back to Sunderland. It was, though, a great honour for us to be with them for a week.
"It would be incredible for one or two of us to get the opportunity to come back to Sunderland and if it is me, or someone else, I will wish them good luck." (Northern Echo, April 15, 2008. Top photo shows Paul,second from right, in training at Sunderland)