Young Aussie Feature: Matthew Fletcher

A profile on one of Australia's brightest young footballing prospects Matthew Fletcher

Date of birth: 01.06.1992 Position: Forward

Club: Sunderland FC

Matthew Fletcher is currently one of Australia-s most promising and exciting young talents but apart from as a young boy for Curl Curl FC in Dee Why (Sydney), he-s yet to play much football in this country. He moved from Sydney to take up a scholarship in Sunderland where he quickly established himself as one of the best players in their youth setup.

From his early footballing days in Sydney it was obvious to those playing and watching him that he had the potential to make a career from football. Curl Curl FC President Ludo Ledieu says as a young player he always looked like scoring goals.

“He just stood out amongst the others. Every year he got better and he always looked like he-d go somewhere. All his coaches from under 6-s up said he had the potential to go all the way.”

During the 2008/09 English youth league season, he made a name for himself in England-s premier youth competition, finishing up as the Young Cats' top scorer with nine goals.

The following season saw him progress immensely and his eye for goal was again proven with him scoring 16 goals in 27 appearances as well as winning the academy goal of the season for a spectacular effort against Barnsley (he also got the third best goal as well against Sheffield Wednesday U18s!). Google it, it-s a cracker! Despite having played little football in Australia, he-s committed his international career to his homeland, featuring recently in the AFC Asian under 19-s tournament in China, where he scored in the 4-1 victory over Yemen.

His travelling hasn-t stopped this year; in August he linked up with the squad in Vietnam for the Asian U19 football championships and in late September he headed over to the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championships.

The side played extremely well throughout the tournament and narrowly lost in the final against DPR Korea after an 89th minute goal was enough to win the match 3-2. Despite this loss, they became the first Australian men-s side to reach the final of any Asian international competition and in doing so qualified for next year-s U20 FIFA World Cup.

After graduating from the youth setup and signing a full-time contract on Wearside in the middle of 2010, he-s currently playing in the reserve team and scoring goals in that setup too. Due to Sunderland-s strong showing in the Premiership, we-re yet to see him in action in the first team.

If he continues to progress at his current rate, we-re sure to hear more from him in the near future, either playing in the U20 World Cup or domestically in England. Many promising young players are loaned out to lower league clubs in England so this could be a possible way for Fletcher to be given the chance to take the next step up.

Fans of Sunderland-s youth team have labelled him the next Mark Viduka, probably due to his height and ability in the air and on the deck. Big complements for such a young player but if he fulfills his potential we could soon be seeing the latest Australian success story in the top English leagues and another great striker for the Qantas Socceroos.