TALENTED football freestyler Chris Draper is on cloud nine after living his Turf Moor dream.
The artistic teenager was the half-time centrepiece as he performed his expressive anthology of thrills and skills in front of 13,221 supporters as the Clarets took on Birmingham City in the Championship.
The 19-year-old, who recently performed at McDiarmid Park, the home of SPL side St Johnstone, had been eager to perform in front of the Jimmy McIlroy, James Hargreaves, Bob Lord and David Fishwick Cricket Field stands since developing a taste for close control just over 12 months ago.
“It was absolutely brilliant,” he said. “It went really well and even though I dropped the ball once or twice I got a great reception from the crowd.
“It was really tricky because the pitch was slippy. It was difficult for me to try something new because when I was balancing on one foot I was slipping. I just had to improvise.”
Since showcasing with the likes of Scotland’s keepy-uppy king Graeme Lightbody, world champion John Farnworth and Richard Braithwaite the Clarets fanatic has perfected his growing resume including around the world, hop the world, crossovers, toe bounce, headstall, rainbow, aeroplane, shoulderstall, hatslip and the clock.
And they were all on show last Tuesday evening. Chris said: “I wouldn’t have changed anything - apart from the result.
“I can’t put in to words just how special the experience was. It is one of those nights that I’ll never forget.
“It’s always been my dream and I’ve been lucky enough to realise it.
“When you’ve got a dream you have to chase it and never stop, no matter how hard it is.
“I asked Burnley Football Club for the opportunity and thankfully they gave it to me.
“It’s definitely the best experience so far.
“Performing at other clubs was great but this tops it because it was my home town.
“You can’t put a price on doing what you love in the centre of the pitch of the club you’ve grown up with.”
But the dream doesn’t end there for Chris; if anything it’s escalating. The UCLAN student’s ambitions have grown to Premier League proportions as he entertained a bumper crowd at the DW Stadium on Wednesday evening as Wigan Athletic took on title-chasing Manchester United.
“It’s the biggest crowd that I’ve performed in front of. Effectively it was a local derby and United are gunning for the title so it was a huge occasion.”
Chris, who will cross the Atlantic to give America a taste of his talent during two Fort Lauderdale Strikers games in May and June, added: “I just want to keep building my freestyle reputation and hopefully build a career out of it.
“I really enjoy doing it and I want to continue whether it’s full-time or not.”