Long gone are the days you need to be scouted by a professional club to make it in a career in football, as Bedfordshire freestyler Tom Nolan has found out to his advantage.
Tom, better known by his online name TNFreestyle, started out by filming in his back garden and at upper school.
But, a chance encounter with Manchester United star Paul Pogba and a prestigious pair of his boots helped kick-start the funding towards a stellar online career.
At 20 years old, Nolan has already featured in social media adverts for EE, Sky Sports and TikTok down to his football freestyle skills, earning him a huge online following.
However, most of Tom’s work is with Adidas; one of the biggest sports manufacturers in the world, having appeared in multiple boot launches for the company.
With freestyling his forte, Tom has also run football camps in Bedford, as well as assisting former Bedford Town striker Jermaine Hall in getting the youth of Bedford back on the right path in life.
Tom has continued to run football camps for youngsters across Bedford whilst simultaneously collating online views for his freestyling.
Having given up football in the conventional form at 13, Tom took up freestyling and very quickly attracted an online following of over 200,000 across multiple platforms and has also attracted over 50 million views.
His viral videos have helped Tom forge a genuine online career, having been invited to train with Manchester United in a pre-season camp in Los Angeles as well as an invite to the prestigious FIFA Best Awards.
However, Tom’s most successful video comes from Soccer AM, the highly popular football show on Sky Sports, where Tom’s “top bins” effort has received over 10 million views in just under a month.
It all started after filming a video in a lunch break at upper school, with the intention of only showing his friends. However, after the video found its way online, 20,000 views amassed and the rest, as they say, is history:
“As a youngster, I had built up a reputation for being good on the ball”, says Tom.
“I felt coaches expected so much of me, that from a young age I just stopped enjoying it. Playing football felt more like a chore than fun which is where the freestyling started to happen.”
At 20 years old, the sky is the limit for Tom with online videos and advertising gaining huge prominence over TV advertising in recent years as viewers switch from the television screen to the small screen.
And with many more projects on the horizon, the views and more importantly, the fun, keep rolling in for the Bedfordshire freestyler, all because he was given a single pair of boots…