WORTHING Football Club keeper Tony Di Bernardo is hoping to earn a professional contract with Burton Albion when he heads to the League Two club for a pre-season trial.
Canadian Di Bernardo had a three-day trial with Burton earlier this season and impressed enough to be asked back for pre-season and it is an opportunity he intends to make the most of.
The 28-year-old has played for various Sussex clubs since moving over from Canada to study and has lived in Worthing for the last five-and-a-half years. He played for Worthing United, Littlehampton, Oakwood and Arundel before linking up with Rebels under Simon Colbran at the start of the 2009-10 season.
After failing to dislodge Alan Mansfield, Di Bernardo moved to Horsham YMCA and then followed boss Chris White from YM back to Rebels last summer.
He made 27 appearances for Worthing this season but is now hoping for a bright future in the professional game.
He said: “I went up for a three-day trial and their manager, Paul Peschisolido, has said he wants me to come back for pre-season.
“I played against Stoke Reserves when I was up there and didn’t think I had a good match but in training, I thought I did pretty well, and they’ve asked me to go back up.
“Their goalkeeping coach, Kevin Poole, was going to retire but has now signed on for another season but I think they’re looking for another keeper, anyway.
“I train every day, anyway, at the moment and work with Stuart Owens, a goalkeeping coach, twice a week, while I go to the gym or work on my ball skills the rest of the week.
“I want to play at a higher standard. I played professionally in Canada but left there to study in England.
“Aged 16, I had a trial organised at Ipswich but got an injury prior to going over and wasn’t able to go.
“Then when I came over to England, no one knew me and it’s been hard.
“Playing semi-professionally, it’s hard to get clubs to come out and view you.
“I was frustrated for a long time but I think I can play higher. I really do look after myself with what I eat and drink and I take care of my body and I hope it will now take care of me.
“I’ve got my education behind me and I feel I can do 10 years or more of hard training to play at a professional level.”
On how he got his trial at Burton, Di Bernardo said: “I sent some CVs in to League One and League Two clubs. A few clubs came back to me but Paul Peschisolido asked me to go up there.
“He spoke to the former Canadian national goalkeeping coach, who I had worked with, and he put in some good words for me.
“When I go back up, I know that I’ve got to go to impress them, so I have to stay calm and have confidence in myself. I’m confident in my ability and want to show that.”
Di Bernardo is also thankful to Rebels boss White and said: “He gave me belief in myself and was probably the first manager to have confidence in me, which gave me a lot of confidence.
“He made me want to do well for him and for myself and I strived to do as well as I could for him.”
Di Bernardo also had good words to say about Worthing and said: “It’s been good this year and Worthing is probably one of the best clubs in the south, with the fans and the ground.
“It’s been great to have support from the management and the fans. It was really nice to be there and I had a great time.”