THE fancy footwork of two young Brighton brothers has netted contracts with a Championship football team.
After years of practising in their back garden Ossie O’Neill, nine, and Sidney O’Neill, 11, have been signed simultaneously by Charlton Athletic.
The team beat off bids from Arsenal, Chelsea, Brentford and Portsmouth for Ossie and Fulham and West Ham to sign Sidney.
Ossie will play for The Addicks’ under-tens with Sidney playing for the under-12s.
Sidney left Brighton and Hove Albion’s youth set-up after two years to sign for Charlton while nine-year-old Ossie was spotted playing locally.
Sidney said: “I liked playing for Brighton but Charlton said they could play me in a more attacking role.
“My favourite position is centre midfield but I want to become an all-round player.
“I used to play with Oz in the garden. We are different players: he has more pace and runs down the wing as a left midfielder.”
Despite the move, Sid said the Albion is still his local team.
Charlton’s chief scout spotted the brothers playing against Ipswich. Paul Senior drove to the boys’ house in Stanford Avenue, Brighton, where they signed up.
Mr Senior: “What caught my eye was that they were technically good players with some quality.
“We offer a genuine opportunity. That said, they are very young and it’s a long road.”
Before Charlton, Mr Senior was at Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, where he spotted Rio Ferdinand and Glen Johnson.
He said: “When I sign a player the intention is for every one of them to progress.”
The boys’ parents, Dan O’Neill and Sara Chong Kwan, said they were proud of their sons.
Mr O’Neill said: “Charlton Athletic feels like a great place for them to develop their footballing skills together.”
Both boys started with local team Hove Rivervale.
Chairman Frank Smith said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. The boys deserve it.”