Local boy Tom is living the dream

Tom Barkhuizen celebrates his goal

Tom Barkhuizen celebrates his goal

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Goal hero Tom Barkhuizen says his winner for Blackpool against Reading is a moment he has dreamed of all his life.

The Blackpool-born striker was a Seasiders supporter until he was picked up by the club’s youth system five years ago.

And all his patience was rewarded on Saturday when he came off the bench to fire the only goal on 75 minutes.

The 20-year-old couldn’t hide his joy afterwards. He told The Gazette: “You grow up as a kid hoping you play for your home team, so to come on and score the winner is unbelievable.

“The most important thing is that the team won three points but from a personal point of view it’s massive.

“It’s a massive confidence boost and hopefully I can keep going forward now.

“I supported the club as a boy and you dream of moments like that. I can’t describe how I felt.”

Barkhuizen, who had a loan spell at Fleetwood Town last season after spending the previous campaign at Hereford United, has had to be patient for his chance in Pool’s first-team squad.

Barkhuizen, who made his Championship debut as a substitute against Barnsley a fortnight ago, said: “At first I thought about playing Chops (Michael Chopra) in, but the Reading lad falling over helped massively and I just thought I was going to hit it.

“The keeper didn’t come out and I had a lot of time. They are usually the worst ones as a forward. I prefer the snapshots, where you don’t have much time to think about it.

“Thankfully it went into the corner. The first year I went out and got a full season under my belt. I got a lot of confidence (scoring 12 goals in 39 appearances for Hereford).

“Last season was a bit stop, start. I wasn’t really happy with how things went. But I’ve come back and I’m working really hard, and it’s finally paying off.”

The striker was spotted playing for junior club Blackpool Rangers when he was 15 and was quickly signed up for Pool’s Centre of Excellence.

Being a local lad, he is supported by a host of family members in the stands, and that made his first goal even more special. “I think I had six or seven family members at the game on Saturday and I got mobbed by them when I got home,” he revealed.

“My family have always been supportive. They come every week and watch me sit on the bench. Even when I was in the youth team they’d all come and watch, and when I went out on loan too.

“It means a lot to me and I’m so grateful to them all. To see my mum there was great for me.”