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FURD referral Kler Heh wins professional contract with the Blades

Sheffield United have awarded a one year professional contract to several second-year scholars, including FURD referral Kler Heh.

Another FURD referral in the Blades development squad, Fahad Ishmael, is to be released at the end of the season.

Kler, now 18, was recommended to the Blades by FURD coach and talent identification officer Luis Silva and signed at the age of 14.

Born in Thailand, the versatile attacking midfielder has spent the last few months on loan at Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Luis said, `He's a very friendly kid, very humble, and very committed to his work. If he keeps working hard he can get better and better every day".

Kler said, "Some friends told me about the FURD coaching at Sheffield United's Academy on Sunday afternoons. So I went along and really enjoyed it - not just the football, but meeting new people and getting to know people from lots of different cultures. I really looked forward to it. Luis taught me a lot and I was soon playing three times a week.

"Luis sent me to the Sheffield United development squad. I went for two trials but didn't get in. Some people might have given up after that, but I didn't! I went for a third trial and then I got in."

Kler's story is more remarkable when you learn that he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and spent the first ten years of his life in the camp. He is of Karen ethnicity - an ethnic minority group which faced oppression in Myanmar (Burma). His family were among around 150,000 Karen refugees who have been stuck in refugee camps in Thailand, near the border with Burma, for many years - decades in some cases.

In 2006, a small group of Karen refugees from the camps were resettled in Sheffield as part of the United Nations Gateway Protection Programme. Kler said the camp was "like a prison, there were no opportunities and no way out. But I played football every day, in bare feet".

Moving to England was a big culture shock. "I didn't speak any English. I'd never seen a city before, I'd never seen such big buildings and so many lights".

"I've come a long way already, but I've still got a long way to go. It's going to be tough, but why stop now!"

Kleh is the latest player to make it as a professional footballer following involvement with FURD's coaching schemes. He follows in the footsteps of Spurs and England star Kyle Walker; Liban Abdi who is currently on loan at Levski Sofia from Turkish club Caykur Rizespor; and AymenTahar of Romanian club Gaz Metan Medias.

Kler Heh April 2015 (Click for full size pop-up)
Kler Heh at the U-Mix Centre

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