Elliott Romain wants to fire Eastbourne Borough into the second round of the FA Cup for the first time their history.

But the 24-year-old striker, who was an Albion schoolboy with Lewis Dunk, has extra motivation to turn it on at Braintree tomorrow.

He would love to secure a professional deal and put his job making air filters on the back burner for a while.

While contemporaries Dunk and Grant Hall have made careers in the Championship, Romain has bounced back the hard way since he was let go by the Seagulls at the age of 16.

He has been battered by centre-backs in the lower leagues.

And he escaped death when driving home from a shift at a supermarket.

He has progressed through County League to Ryman League to National League south.

The Argus:

Elliott Romain had a spell with Lewes

These days, he balances a day job in Horsham with full-time style football training in Eastbourne to try and make his dreams happen.

Romain told The Argus: “I do 39 hours a week for a manufacturing company “We make air systems for things like nuclear plants and warships. It’s quite hands on.

“On the days we train, which is Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, I start at 7am, then I leave work at quarter-past-nine and drive to Eastbourne to train for two hours.

“Then I drive back to Horsham and work until six.

“Even if I could get into the Conference, as long the money supported me, I’d like to step up and go from there.”

The Argus:

Romain used to wonder how things might have turned out had he made the same progress as Dunk, pictured above, who will be on live TV with the Seagulls tomorrow, and Hall, who is now at QPR.

He said: “I thought about it when I was younger but I’ve just gone with it now.

“What happens, happens. I just work hard and do the best I can from it.

“They were stand out players and they were looking to go higher and they got the chance.

“As soon as I was released by Brighton, I played in the under-18s at Three Bridges and then broke into the men’s team.

“We got promoted into Ryman south and then I progressed from there.

“I worked at Tesco as a part-time job and a car pulled out on me on the dual carriageway.

“I went into the right-hand lane and they hit the front of my car and span it over twice.


“The passenger side was crushed. If there had been somebody in that side, they would have died.

“Luckily my side was intact and somebody dragged me out.

“All I had were cuts from the glass. If I hadn’t had a seatbelt on, 100% I’d have been dead, “It is has changed my approach a bit. I live by the day, I take things as they come.”

Romain enjoys playing with better players and has an aggressive streak which can land him in trouble but which boss Tommy Widdrington is keen to harness.

He added: “That came from when I was younger at Three Bridges.

“I got bashed up, I got punched in the face, my cheekbone was broken, various things happened. I reacted when I played at that level.

“But I am an aggressive player and it has helped me.

“I need to be controlled and let it come out in the right way.

“Playing at this level has helped me. No one can get away with punching you in the face at this level!”

Romain has never played in the first round of the FA Cup before and Braintree is not a bad venue for him to try to further his ambitions.

He admits he is a bit old to be thought of as a young footballer.

But Alex Revell was only a year younger when he was plucked from Braintree by Albion, who were in League One, in 2006.

The Argus:

Alex Revell was discovered playing non-league football for Braintree

Romain said: “I want to play as high as I can. I think I can progress but it’s just about getting that chance.

“I want to keep scoring and playing well. The Cup is a big chance to show what you can do.

“As a team, we think we can get a result. We are grinding out performances. We haven’t lost in the last few games.

“If we can stay strong at the back and not concede, we know we have scored in almost every game.”

Borough are without cup-tied Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is on loan from Portsmouth, for the trip to Essex. He played for Salisbury in an earlier round.