By Joshua Richards
PULLING pints and an eye-opening stint in Cyprus preceded Sam Beasant’s Football League debut earlier this month at the age of 26.
The son of former England stopper Dave Beasant has endured a journey to Stevenage so arduous that it makes the drive down the A1 to the Lamex Stadium seem more like a Sunday afternoon cruise through the Hertfordshire countryside.
But having signed a two-year deal with Graham Westley’s side in June, Beasant is determined to make up for lost time.
“The manager has been great with me at Stevenage,” he said. “I signed a two-year deal, which gives me a bit of comfort and security.
“I don’t have to worry about what happens next, I can just get my head down and play and I’m really enjoying being a part of the team.”
The first major step in Beasant’s colourful career saw him join three-time Cypriot champions Olympiakos Nicosia from Amersham Town on the recommendation of his manager.
But his time in the island’s capital city was brief. Beasant would watch helplessly from between the posts on match-days knowing if his team-mates failed to hit the target at the other end he may not get paid that week.
Quickly he was falling out of love with the game that he had watched provide his dad with so many happy memories, including lifting the FA Cup with Wimbledon – after that iconic penalty save from Liverpool’s John Aldridge – and a place in Bobby Robson’s 1990 World Cup squad.
The tide for Sam turned when he headed out to Spain to join Glenn Hoddle’s Academy, set up primarily to help promising young players released from England’s top clubs get back into the game.
A move to Conference South club Maidenhead United followed and Beasant’s boyhood hopes of emulating his dad were back on.
“When I was in Cyprus I had highs and lows, but the lows had me thinking ‘is this really for me?’” he said. “It was a good opportunity and a good experience, but there was so much uncertainty.
“I went out to Spain to the Glenn Hoddle Academy, where things started to turn around. I shocked myself as to how low I had got, but I built my confidence back up and I started to fall in love with football again.”
Beasant then joined Woking after a satisfying six months with the Magpies, but football was still only supplementing his income.
The 6ft 5in goalkeeper was training twice a week, but working in a pub full-time and while the landlord was sympathetic to his cause, Beasant admits combining the two was not always easy.
“The pub was flexible, allowing me to work around training and matches,” he said. “But Gateshead away on a Tuesday night is where things got tricky. It was difficult doing both.”
His displays at the Kingfield Stadium, however, caught the eye of Stevenage, who handed Beasant what he had always wanted in the close season – a full-time deal at a professional club with Westley revealing from the outset he would be the team’s No.1.
Beasant was made to feel even more at home a month later when dad Dave came through the doors as goalkeeping coach. And, following the initial shock of training on a daily basis and watching his diet, a clean sheet in the opening day 1-0 win over Hartlepool has settled him.
“For the first week or so of pre-season it was a bit of a shock to the system, but I’ve quickly adjusted,” Beasant added.
“It was great to make my debut and of course I’d like to play as high as possible, hopefully I can, but its step by step at the moment.”