SHOOTING star Niall Mason, who attends Clitheroe’s Moorland School, is living the dream after signing for Premier League club Southampton.

The 16-year-old, who cut his teeth with Blackburn Rovers’ junior academy, has joined the Saints on an apprentice contract after Southampton scouts spotted his potential in a practice game.

Now he is training alongside Southampton’s Premier League stars at their state of the arts training ground at Staplewood.

“This is a dream come true, and something I’ve worked really hard for over the last few years,” said the promising midfielder.

“It also represents an amazing opportunity, because the one thing I want more than anything is to be a professional footballer.

“To see the first team players working every day, you understand how much effort you have to put into to reach the top.”

Southampton flew Niall back to the North-West so he could sit his GCSE examinations, but from July he will link up with them permanently.

Niall was tutored by coach Charlie Jackson, who discovered the talent of former Moorland student John Cofie, who was signed by Manchester United after a spell with Burnley.

Niall added: “Mr Jackson was a massive help, he is a fabulous coach and my experience with Blackburn also taught me how to play in different positions and to understand tactics better.

“Most of all, Moorland gave me tremendous help and support, both with my studies and learning football.

“It is a fantastic school and I’m very proud to have had the chance there.”

Niall says his favourite player is Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard, adding: “He is a fantastic role model for any young player starting out in the game. I admire him a lot.”

Moorland Headteacher Jonathan Harrison said: “We are very proud of Niall’s achievements.

“He has worked very hard throughout his time at Moorland School.”