You might have remembered the name ‘Rinomhota’ from when Portsmouth hosted Reading U23’s earlier this month, and if you didn’t, then take note of it because the future looks bright for local boy Andy Rinomhota at Reading.

After impressing throughout his youth league football playing for his local side AFC Portchester, Andy was quickly identified as a top talent for his age group in the area, and this was reflected from his quick transition from the youth team to the men’s reserves, shortly followed by a promotion to the first team playing under Graham Rix. And this was where Andy’s unanticipated rise to the football league began.

After a string of games and goals Andy certainly turned some heads in non-league football, but I wanted to know a bit more about how Andy went from the local leagues to a professional contract at just 17 years old, and how his experiences have been since making the jump. So I did a short question and answer with the midfield prospect who has been part of a side that has beaten Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea at youth level, and he was kind enough to give me some time. See the result below!

How did the interest in you from clubs come about and how did you find out about it?

Initially it was Graham Rix, the manger at AFC Portchester where I was playing at the time. He contacted Reading who sent a scout down to watch me for a few games. That lead to me going up there on trial which lasted two weeks and they offered me a contract!

Did Portsmouth FC ever contact you? And what was it like playing at Fratton park?

No I didn’t get contacted by Pompey. It was a bit weird playing at Fratton park against Pompey because they were the local pro team in the area so I followed how they were doing and their results, so then playing them was always going to be an experience.

On the subject what has the Checkatrade trophy meant for you?

The cup is helping the under 23’s getting used playing men’s football against more physical and direct teams, and its a lot different to playing against other academies week in week out.

Have you been back and watched AFC Portchester since?

Yeah I’ve watched them a couple times since I left but not as much as I would have liked. It’s difficult obviously Reading first team play on a Saturday as well so whenever they are at home I am watching them.

For those not familiar with Andy as a player, he is a physical, tricky and industrious player who can play in the engine room of midfield or be a more attacking role due to his skill on the ball. And seeing him ply his trade for Reading at Fratton park was a good reminder of just what non-league football can offer to not only older players, but to prospect as well. The number of players being taken from the non-leagues is increasing rapidly, and as Andy goes to show there is plenty of talent to be found if the bigger clubs are willing to look.

Andy’s story also highlights the importance and dedication of our local clubs, managers going above and beyond to develop talent is what the game is all about and epitomises the dedication in non-league football. So get down to your local clubs and see what they have to offer over the weekend, I am sure you will be surprised.

And keep an eye out for the name Rinomhota!

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