Two former Albion youngsters are preparing to pursue the American dream after securing scholarships.

And ex-Seagulls star John Robinson suspects they could be the first of many.

Will Leary and Will Payne have committed to Cayuga College in New York with the help of a recruitment and scouting process set up by John Robinson Soccer USA.

Robinson, the former Albion and Charlton favourite now based in Florida, believes he can open up unrivalled opportunities for youngsters in this country and across Europe to progress through the American college system.

Leary and Payne will help blaze the trail while Bethany Crease, of Sussex Schools, is likely to follow.

Robinson has also set up an independent football academy at three bases across Sussex, for under-sevens through to under-16s.

One of the coaches is former Sussex non-league goal-getter Dominic Shepherd, whose dad John initially scouted Robinson for Albion.

The academy has bases in Portslade and Southwick as well as Stanley Deason in Brighton.

Robinson said: “John Shepherd was the original scout, along with Mike Fogden, who scouted me when I was eight years old for Brighton and Hove Albion, and effectively put me on the path to the professional football world.

“So it’s great now that myself and Dominic are able to work together to bring different and multiple opportunities to the players in Sussex if all ages, and pass on our experience.

“Our coaching staff will have former Albion professional players, former international players from senior to youth, and local licensed coaches.

“There will be partnerships with local grass root clubs, non-league county clubs, other European and American youth academies and contacts within the European and American professional and semi-professional leagues.

“This would mean we have the complete pathway for players and be the only independent academy with the USA college route.”

Robinson said a college place would open up various opportunities for youngsters who did not make it as professional footballers.

It also means an academic education, as well as football skills, is key.

He added: “The message is, work hard on your GCSEs and you might get a better college or a better offer in the USA.

“Kids have to understand education is important – and I think they do.

“We don’t want to take that dream of becoming a professional footballer away, of course we don’t.

“But we want to be realistic and we want to tell them all the other options.”

Robinson is looking to host further USA college showcase events in Sussex between September and December 2019.

Any Sussex football clubs interested in hosting a college showcase event should contact

Free open training days for boys and girls aged seven to 16 are being staged at Stanley Deason Leisure Centre on July 30, August 2 and August 6 and at Mile Oak FC on August 1 and August 5 (all 5-7pm).