South Shields footballer sets out to secure funding for American scholarship after death of his dad following heart attack aged 36

A footballer from South Shields who has gained a place on a scholarship to play football in the US is making one final push to raise more funds following the death of his ‘much-loved’ father.

Luke Thomas, 19 who has ‘always loved football’, has been offered his dream four-year partial scholarship to play football in Kansas, USA.

The aspiring footballer travelled to Manchester in 2020 to take part in trials and in April 2021, he finally received the news that he had made it down to the last 25 candidates before he was invited to London to take part in a match.

After attending the Sunderland Academy of Light on a scholarship for the past three years, Luke is now due to start his NJCAA scholarship in America this August – but still needs to raise £3500 before the end of May.

Luke with his dad Simon who sadly passed away aged 36.

Sadly, one of Luke’s ‘biggest supporters’ his dad, Simon Thomas, tragically passed away aged 36 following a heart attack on April 20.

Luke’s grandmother Eileen Thomas says her grandson has now set out to ‘make his dad proud’ with a final push to raise funds.

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She said: “We are completely devastated and Simon has always pushed Luke from the very start.

Luke's dad Simon has always supported his son's football aspirations.

"Simon was larger than life and Luke was so close to him, he just wants to make his dad proud and get the final funding so he can fulfil his dream – Simon would be so chuffed to see him do it.”

The family have been raising funds since April last year and have so far raised an incredible £7000.

A fun day is set to take place on May 7 at the New Mill Pub in South Shields to raise more funds with stalls, a tombola, a bouncy castle and a signed Little Mix bundle and new pair of Nike trainers donated by England footballer Demi Stokes.

Eileen added: "He’s such a nice lad and very well thought of and being from the North East these chances don't come along very often – it would really mean the world to him to be able to start this new chapter in his life so I really hope people will get behind this and help support him."

Luke Thomas hopes to move to the US as part of a partial scholarship.

For more information on how you can support Luke please visit this link.