This year could be one to remember for Newcastle Jets talent Angus Thurgate as he is set to juggle his Year 12 studies with football.
Thurgate made his A-League debut in a 1-0 win over Brisbane Roar in early January and also partook in the next two games against Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City.
The youngster turned 18 a fortnight ago and it was announced on Wednesday that Thurgate had received a scholarship contract.
The boy from Port Macquarie impressed in the National Youth League (NYL) and was happy the Jets had faith to play him at A-League level.
“It’s good the club has a process for me from the academy to the first team,” Thurgate told FourFourTwo.
“It is a good feeling to get a contract for next season, but there’s still a lot of work to be done and hopefully I’ll get a new contract at the end of that.
“I’m in Year 12 now. It is a bit hard, but I guess I’ve just got to do it. There’s only seven months left, so I’ll just try and get through that to the best of my ability and we’ll see what happens after that.
“I don’t really talk about my football at school, I try to avoid it. First day back, all the teachers were saying congrats, but I don’t really try to bring it up.”
Thurgate played as a defensive midfielder in the NYL, but has been played as a winger by coach Ernie Merrick at A-League level.
He has been living in Newcastle for the past three years and revealed he had a round ball at his feet since he was five-years-old.
“Mum never really wanted me to play rugby league, so soccer was the only other winter sport that appealed to me,” he said.
“I played cricket in the summer, but with soccer.. I found out I was kind of good at it, so I just kept playing.”
Thurgate praised the culture at Newcastle and he said all the senior players were offering him guidance to make it a smooth transition.
“I was really nervous when I was on the bench against Sydney and that finished 2-2,” Thurgate said.
“That was the first time I’d ever been involved on match day, I didn’t get on, but I was really nervous on the bench in front of 18,000 people. It was good to get on against Brisbane and I nearly scored… but that’s alright I guess.
“It is a massive step-up from the NYL, but it’s good. Everyone in the A-League team has been welcoming and Ernie is great to work with. It’s been a great experience and I got an opportunity. Hopefully I can keep working hard and get some more chances next season.
“Ernie gets to know his players individually really well. He knows how to handle situations, he’s very experienced. That’s the one thing that I noticed.
“He takes time to get to know each individual personality really well, he knows how to approach them to tell them if they’re playing or not or if they’ve done something wrong. That’s what stands out the most for me.”