Simpson: Leicester Tigers Offered Me a Contract But Football Was Always My Dream
Friday, 6th Mar 2020 14:00
Speed merchant Tyreece Simpson – Town’s most recent graduate to first-team level with three substitute appearances to his credit so far – is a mix of pace and power who had the chance to launch a career in another professional sport.
When he was offered a contract by Premiership giants Leicester Tigers, however, he decided instead to back his ability as a footballer and wait to see if a similar deal might be on the table in his favourite sport.
Simpson recalled: “I was in the youth set-up at Tigers when they offered me a contract. They said they hadn’t done that in about 15 years to someone of my age and it was a big moment for me. It meant I had to choose between rugby and football.
“I was a winger or an outside centre at rugby. I was in the youth system with Leicester for about two years and I was 16 when they said they wanted to take me on.
“I was hoping a football club would come in for me but the offer from the Tigers came before any of them took an interest in me.
“It was a definite offer from Leicester but I turned it down because my dream was to become a footballer and I still believed I would get a chance one day.
“Football was in my heart. I enjoyed playing rugby but I never enjoyed it as much as I did when I was on a football pitch. I just thought I would stick to football.”
The move paid off and Simpson can look back on his time with the oval ball with great pride as he helped Langley School to victory at Twickenham in March 2018, the Norfolk school beating Wirral Grammar 48-22 to lift the U18 Schools Vase.
But the youngster was also something of a star in track and field, representing Great Yarmouth & District Athletics Club in the 100 metres and clocking an impressive time of 11.2 seconds.
He also ran the 200 metres and competed in the shot put Simpson’s rise to first-team level has come as a pleasant surprise. He admitted: “I thought this season was just going to be about the U23s, maybe training with the first team and then back to the U23s. But I’m obviously delighted with the way things are going at the moment.
“It’s been a steep learning curve and when you’re aiming for something you need to make sure you stick at it. It’s not just about how much talent you have. There’s a lot of hard work involved too and it was hard work that got me here, where I am today.”
Simpson’s chance has come at a time when Town have been without strike pair James Norwood, who is recovering from groin surgery, and Kayden Jackson, who will complete a three-game ban by sitting out tomorrow’s home clash with top-of-the-table Coventry.
“We’re all different types of strikers, me and the guys in the first team, but there’s one who is younger and similar to me in style,” said Ipswich-born Simpson.
“I’ve had lots of help from the senior players. I was in the gym the other day and Nors [James Norwood] came up to me to give me some advice on my body position. They have the experience to tell me what I have to do to improve.
“In my appearances this month against Blackpool and Fleetwood I feel like I battled well and put in decent performances. I’ve been told I’ve been decent so that’s good.
“I was very disappointed I didn’t score, or at least get a shot on target, the other night. I think I made the right decision to go with my left foot but I should have taken the shot quicker and kept it lower.”
Asked to describe himself as a player, Simpson added: “I would say I’m big, strong and fast, and I can cope with the physical stuff.
“I’ve got a presence and also a good left foot. I’ve tried to hit the ground running but I know I need to keep improving. I’m striving for more and hopefully I’ll get some more minutes with the first team this season.
“In the U18s I suppose you could say I’m basically bullying some opponents but it’s a lot harder hard coming up against experienced defenders for the first team. My rugby training helped to build me up physically and the athletics helped me with my speed.”
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