New City star Sam McCallum owes career progression to Foxes striker Jamie Vardy
- Credit: Jason Dawson
Sam McCallum’s journey into the professional game has been less than conventional.
A surge from the depths of non-league has culminated with the 19-year-old penning a four-and-a-half year deal with Norwich City on deadline day.
Eighteen months ago, the left-back doubted whether his dreams would become tangible whilst operating for eighth tier side Herne Bay.
After being released from the Gillingham youth set-up, McCallum decided to commit himself to the Kent-based non-league outfit and didn't make his senior debut for them until 2017.
It was his performances for England schoolboys that helped propel him up the ladder however, with McCallum's coach recommending him to the Jamie Vardy academy, a vehicle for non-league players to display their talents to professional clubs.
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Vardy's academy prompted Coventry City to sign the youngster, something his father described as being like a 'dream'.
John Warden, McCallum's father, recalls an experience with City's new addition when he was aged just four.
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"Sam hit a half-volley right into my hands. I thought then that was very unusual. He struck it so well and his timing was spot on," Warden describes to Herne Bay's official website.
"We're pinching ourselves because he's always said he's wanted to be a footballer and lo and behold he is one now. He's realised that dream."
McCallum hasn't looked back since joining the Sky Blues and has established himself as a major protagonist as Mark Robins' men continue their push for promotion.
Dean Tucker, head of recruitment and project leader for the V9 academy, helped the 19-year-old secure his move to Coventry.
With Vardy's academy in jeopardy due to a lack of financial support, Tucker is hoping McCallum's story could help keep Vardy's project afloat.
"We are hoping that with Sam's story supporters will come forward and help it. With that support, there is the hope that we will get going again in 2021."
Leicester City striker Vardy added: "We would like to keep providing this platform for non-league players and hopefully somebody out there will show some interest in supporting V9."