What happened to the winner of Football Icon 2 after he won a Chelsea contract in 2007?

Carl Magnay

Becoming a professional footballer is the dream career for many amateur players around the world.

The glitz, the glamour, the insane salaries and let’s not forget, getting to play the beautiful game every day – it’s a lifestyle that many can only fantasise about.

But becoming a pro footballer might be one of the hardest things in the world.

The small number of players who actually make it lay bare the grim reality that there is a greater chance of someone getting hit by a meteorite than becoming a footballer.

Yet, some players do make it to the top level or at least get a glimpse of what life is like inside a Premier League football club.

One of those is former Chelsea player Carl Magnay who has had a rather unconventional footballing journey.

Back in 2007, Magnay appeared on the Sky One television show Football Icon, which gave unsigned players between the ages of 16 and 18 a chance to win a six-month contract with the then-Premier League champions, Chelsea.

Akin to the X Factor, a group of young hopefuls attended a series of merciless football trials that would whittle out the best players from the bunch.

Magnay happened to be one of them, and speaking to The Athletic, he recounted his amazing story.

“I remember thinking: ‘This is quite brutal’,” he said, reminiscing his first trial for the show.

“You stood in front of a big telly, on this big ‘X’ the production crew had put on the floor.

“There was no one coaching wise to actually talk to you about how you did.

“You just had to wait for the screen to flash. It would either show a green tick if you’d made it, a big cross if you’d failed or a question mark if you were close and still to be decided.

“It was pretty cut-throat having to stand there like that. Thousands of boys in my trial didn’t progress. Fortunately, I got a green tick.”

At just 17 years of age, Magnay had already been let go from Leeds United and had just started a six-week trial at Middlesbrough before he went to the first session.

But the centre-back advanced through the rounds, attending training sessions at Chelsea’s Cobham training centre, working with Dutch side FC Twente for a week and also jetting off to Los Angeles to train with LA Galaxy.

He even spent time training under the wing of Brendan Rodgers, Jose Mourinho’s assistant coach at the time, and got to train with first-team players like Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Damien Duff.

“I remember John Terry coming up to me afterwards saying how well I’d done in possession, that I’d not given it away. Defensively I struggled at times; they were so much quicker and sharper than I was. But pure adrenaline got me through.

“If it all ended after that session, I’d have been happy. I have a photo up on my wall where I live now of me in a one-v-one, defending against Joe Cole that day.”

Magnay was eventually cut to the last three finalists before finally being given the good news that he had won the show.

But what happened to Magnay afterwards?

Well, as the Athletic reports, he stayed at Chelsea for another four and a half years, earning himself several more contracts, a hard enough task in itself as he had to prove to the coaches and the Chelsea staff that he was good enough to warrant a place at the club.

He said: “I just had to make sure my football did the talking and I did that pretty quickly. I earned their respect.

“Within a month, I was playing for the Youth team. Before the end of the season, I’d made my first start for the reserves. I would go on to captain the reserves and have a few loans. I was doing really well.”

After making 20 appearances for the reserves, things turned sour for the defender who suffered a stress fracture in his spine and a cruciate knee ligament injury in 2010.

That spelt the end of his playing career with Chelsea, with Magnay moving on play for Grimsby Town and Hartlepool United and can now still be seen turning out for Gateshead in the National League.

Yet, it seems his affinity with Chelsea isn’t over just yet, with the Football Icon winner still plying his trade as a regional youth scout for the European champions and as a coach for the u13s.

“That’s what the club do so well, they keep people around who know what it’s like to go through the process of becoming a footballer with them,” Magnay said before admitting that the programme had changed his life.

News Now - Sport News