Trott keeps alive Wellington Hill tradition
The Wellington Hill section of St George's has produced some outstanding goalkeepers in the past three decades, with Nathan Trott, of West Ham United, being the latest to come from the neighbourhood that gave Bermuda our own Miss World in 1979, Gina Swainson.
Trott's father, Dwayne, was a goalkeeper himself, starting with Wellington Rovers in the Eastern Soccer League in the 1980s before also playing for St George's and Devonshire Colts, where he finished his playing career.
Troy Hall also lived in the neighbourhood, on Wellington Lane, while his nephew, Freddy Hall, who played professionally in England, Ireland and North America, grew up further east on Wellington Hill. Zeko Burgess, a team-mate of Hall at St George's Colts, is also from Wellington Hill.
“St George's has a good breed of 'keepers, that's unreal,” Dwayne said. “We all lived in proximity, all less than a mile; maybe it's something in the water. They have put themselves on the map as far as 'keepers are concerned.”
Dwayne is at present in England visiting his son, who signed a new contract with West Ham on Monday that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2022. The 20-year-old has the opportunity to make a name for himself, having already played for the England under-20s.
His father says that the foundation was laid more than a decade earlier after making a decision to have Nathan coached by Kenny Thompson, Kacy Butterfield and then Andrew Bascome before travelling to Spain at the age of 12 for the Valencia Next Generation programme.
“When he was a kid I had him doing all sorts of sports and when he was ten or 11 he said, ‘Dad, I just want to focus on football',” Dwayne recalled. “He showed the promise and even from a young age, 6 or 7, I used to take him up to White Hill for his first bit of football with Somerset Eagles.
“I always wanted to go with Kenny [Thompson] because I knew him as a coach and a technically gifted player. Nathan used to go to school at Saltus, which was only five minutes from where I worked and the key for me was getting the quality coaching. “When he was 7 he and a bunch of kids went away for two weeks with Kenny to Holland. It was through Andrew's connection at Valencia that he went away to Spain.
“Between the ages of ten and 12, every summer he used to go to Spain for a tournament and one of the coaches there said, ‘Nathan's really got a talent, why don't you send him over here?'. I figured ten years old was too young.
“He kept asking me and at 12 I figured it couldn't hurt him. He was over there from 12½ to 15 and then came back and went to Warwick Academy for a year. From 15 to 16 he played for BAA and then went to trials at Reading and Crystal Palace.
“One week at Crystal Palace turned into six weeks and then they said, ‘We really don't have any spots for any 'keepers right now but you are more than welcome to stay and train with us'. For six weeks he travelled from Chelmsford to Crystal Palace, leaving home at six in the morning and then coming back six at night.”
Soon after he was given an opportunity to try out with West Ham. “His agent said, ‘I know somebody at West Ham, I'll set up a meeting so they can have a look at you and we'll take it from there',” Dwayne explained.
“Even at West Ham, initially they didn't have any space for him; they weren't looking for a 'keeper. Sam Howes was the England under-18 'keeper at the time.”
Just before Trott left for the trials in England, his father had Timmy Figureido, a former Bermuda goalkeeper and PE teacher at Saltus Grammar School, give Nathan some extra training at BAA Field. “In fact, Freddy Hall came by one day and gave him a hand,” Trott recalled.
Before becoming a goalkeeper, Nathan played at left back or as a striker. Occasionally, Trott even plays in the outfield during training at West Ham, impressing his team-mates with his skills.
All the early sacrifices are paying off now for Trott, who looks set to become the first Bermudian since Clyde Best to play for West Ham's first team.
“We just came from lunch, and I said to him, ‘Now that you've got a new contract, in order to go to the next level you have to up your game even more',” said his father.
“That was obviously a roll of the dice from age 12½, out of it he has learnt another language. At West Ham the Spanish players challenge him but he can hold a conversation in Spanish.
“He also learnt the Spanish culture, something that will stay with him for life. All the people who had an influence on his early development were handpicked.
“Goalkeeping is a specialised position; the only way to get the opportunity to sign for West Ham was one of the goalkeeping coaches put him and Sam Howes in a session in front of [former manager Slaven] Bilic and put them through their paces.
“Nathan came out with flying colours and it paved the way for him to get his schoolboy contract, because he was just 17 at the time.”
Dwayne is enjoying watching the upward trajectory of his son's career. “I loved my football but I got to a certain point when I realised it wasn't a lifetime thing that I wanted to do,” he said “Nathan said to me, ‘This is what I want to do'. I said, ‘This is my commitment to you; as long as you do what you need to do then we'll travel the globe to get you there'.
“When people ask me if I still play football, I say, ‘No, I'm living my football dream vicariously through my son'.”