Mykel Beckley scored two goals and earned the man of the match award in the Budweiser Open Trials' showpiece finale. Now he has lined up trials with professional clubs
By Oliver Platt
David Ginola scanned the table, frowned and pointed. "That was my..."
"Steve picked him first," Alex McLeish cut in.
The Frenchman turned to the camera. "How did you manage that, without talking to us?" He had not been in the room when McLeish and Steve Clarke, the former head coach of West Brom, had taken turns to select their teams for the showpiece Wembley finale of the Budweiser Open Trials and was finding out for the first time which players he would be working with as McLeish's assistant.
Clarke picked first and wasted no time in choosing Ginola's favourite, Mykel Beckley. He did not regret it. A tall, lightning-quick left winger, he had impressed all four of the coaches - the fourth being Clarke's right-hand man, Ray Parlour - during the second stage of the trials at St George's Park as they sought to uncover talented footballers that had slipped through the net of the professional game.
Beckley scored two goals in the big match as a member of Clarke's white-shirted team, first sweeping in a ball cut back across goal with his right foot, then taking down a fine long pass to slip in a second on his left. He would also go on to create the fifth goal in a 5-2 victory.
"Funnily enough I didn't get to watch the programme when it was aired, so I didn't know I'd been picked first," the 28-year-old, who currently works as an electrician, told Goal. "A few of the lads messaged me saying I was the first pick so I watched it on the train on the way down to the FA Cup final, which we got invited to by Budweiser. I was chuffed to bits to be honest; I was pretty shocked I was the first pick but very happy."
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"It's been a massive whirlwind," Beckley said. "It's only really the last couple of days I've thought to myself that this really is a second chance. I'm so lucky to be where I am; with everything that's gone on over the last couple of weeks, the trials will just top it off now.
"I don't think I could have done anything any differently in the game. To score two goals and get man of the match was a dream come true really. I just tried to forget about all the scouts. I was lucky enough to play with a good friend of mine [Daventry team-mate Ashley Robinson] who made it to the final as well so we were just bouncing off each other and it was just like a normal game."
Beckley did not start playing organised football until his teenage years, having spent much of his free time growing up in Birmingham in martial arts classes. He was never part of a professional academy and joined his first part-time club while simultaneously going through college and university and holding down a job in retail.
When he spotted an advert for the Open Trials on Facebook, he did not give it much consideration; a friend, Wayne Kelly, filled out the forms for him and an email detailing the first set of trials duly landed in his inbox a short time later.
Now, he is headed to Brazil for his own chance on the international stage while the World Cup takes place around him. Eight Open Trials players will face teams from around the world in a six-a-side tournament in Rio de Janeiro before Beckley returns for his professional trials back home. He might cast an eye, while he is there, on a certain member of Roy Hodgson's travelling squad, as Rickie Lambert heads to the biggest event in world football seven years after making his last appearance in the fourth tier for Bristol Rovers.
"There's a lot of players that slip through the net, whether because they haven't played until a later age or just not been lucky enough to get their chance," Beckley opined. "If you think about how many players and teams there are in the country, there's no way professional teams can keep track of all of them."
One such player might just have been brought emphatically to their attention.
Watch Mykel Beckley's man-of-the-match performance in the Budweiser Open Trials video below.