A former Chesterfield prospect is out to prove there is life in football for young players after being released by a professional club.
George Milner was let go by the Spireites last summer and spent the vast majority of the 2016/17 season in non-league.
But an opportunity to go and play in Scandinavia has given his fledgling career a boost and brought about a return to full-time football.
The 19-year-old, who featured for Buxton and Clipstone last season, explains: “On Friday 24th March I got a message from my agent saying there was a chance for me to go out to Norway and play football, then on the Sunday he phoned me asking if I could fly out on the Tuesday morning.”
Milner didn’t have long to deliberate, but it wasn’t a decision that he found particularly taxing.
“It was a very easy decision to make, it was an excellent opportunity, to get back into full-time football and experience another country,” he said.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
“A chance to see the world, do what I love and get back into full-time football.”
He joined fourth-tier Valdres FK ahead of the start of the season on 17th April, relocating to a small town called Fagernes, two and half hours drive from Oslo.
Life in Norway didn’t exactly get off to the dream start, however.
“I got injured during the first week was very disappointing after not being injured for two and a half years, but I came back and played a lot,” he said.
“We had a good first three games, won the first game against the favourites to go up, but we had a bit of a bad run losing five games in a row.
“We were just unlucky, we played really well, but conceded too many simple goals from silly mistakes, which was frustrating – we were leading in four of those five games.”
Disaster struck for the Buxton lad in the very next game.
“We played against a team called Frigg Oslo and 30 minutes in I went up for a header and a player came in with a knee and connected with my jaw, knocking me out.
“I was unconscious for some time and rushed to hospital, but they cleared me for any brain injuries.
“I did break my jaw and they said I’d be out for four weeks, which was disappointing, so I have had some bad luck while I’ve been here.
“But I feel like I have played well when I have played, so when I come back I will be back stronger and hopefully adding goals to my game.”
Milner, who mercifully doesn’t need surgery on his jaw, will only miss three games thanks to the summer break that halts play between 17th and 27th July.
He has a one-year deal with Valdres and plans to keep working hard to elongate his career in the sport.
“It’s every kid’s dream to be a professional footballer,” he said.
“I put in a lot of hard work to earn a professional contract, but the hard work doesn’t stop, I want to to develop into a better person and a better player.
“I want to have a long and successful career in football, whether that means playing abroad or in England.”
And Milner hopes others, who find themselves being shown the door by professional clubs, can take inspiration from his story.
“I want to set an example for other young players after they get released as a YT from a professional club, it’s a horrible feeling and you feel like your dreams are crushed.
“But if you continue to put in the hard work and don’t give up anything can happen.”