Non-League FootballSport

Tooting hotshot – who concentrated on studies rather than pursuing Charlton trial – on scoring four goals in one game for Tooting & Mitcham and pride at Lebanon international action

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Hady Ghandour has set himself a target of at least 15 goals this season – and his scoring exploits for Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday were a huge help in his attempts to reach that haul.

The 19-year-old striker netted four for the Terrors as they smashed Chertsey 5-0 in the Isthmian League South Central Division.

Ghandour, whose father moved to the UK at the age of 13, has been capped by Lebanon at U16 and U19 level. The Chelsea-raised teenager has concentrated on his schooling. He trialled with Charlton Athletic towards the end of his A levels but did not want to break his education.

Ghandour is studying at Cass Business School.

“Full-time football is a dream,” he said. “If the opportunity comes then I’m not going to say no. But obviously it might not, so you need a back-up. I like business and finance, so why not pursue that if football doesn’t work out in terms of being a full-time thing.

“I’ve been at Tooting for four years. In my first year there I went to Leicester, it was when they won the Premier League. But experience-wise I wasn’t ready – it was a bit too much.

“I did well, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t better than what they already had there.”

Ghandour broke into the first-team picture at Tooting last season and scored seven goals in 16 starts.

Including U23 level, he struck 18 times in 33 games.

Last weekend he took his total for the current campaign to six.

“It was my first senior hat-trick in my first full senior season,” he said. “It didn’t really sink in until Monday.

“It’s just surreal. To score four goals – at any level – is crazy. It doesn’t come around often at all.

“I should be on more goals than what I am. I’ve missed chances and also been unlucky with some chances. My aim is to get 15-20 goals this season.”

Tooting are fourth in the table – seven points behind leaders Hanwell Town – but have three matches in hand. Tomorrow they host second-placed Ware.

“We started the season really well and we’re unbeaten in 12 games,” said Ghandour. “We have to go for the title but as long as we get in the play-offs then we’ve got a chance of going up.”

The youngster has more international goals in sight too.

“There are the U23 Asia Cup qualifiers and the Olympic qualifiers,” said Ghandour. “If I continue my form then I should be in with a good chance of a call-up.

“When I played in Qatar it was on TV, so my mum could watch from London. Singing the anthem was an incredible feeling – very emotional. It’s 100 per cent the best thing I’ve ever done.”

PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD

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