New loan signing Jonny Giles has found himself at Aldershot Town via an unusual path not trodden by many professional footballers.

The 22-year-old, who is on loan from Oxford, made his way to the Kassam Stadium via university football at Durham where he successfully gained a degree in Physics.

As if that doesn’t go against the stereotypical image of a footballer enough, Giles also never played for an academy and was signed after impressing on trial once he had left university.

Unusual yes, but Giles is going from strength to strength in professional football and is making his spell at the EBB Stadium is the next target on his list.

He said: "I played for Durham Uni and the facilities that we trained at were also used by Hartlepool and through some contacts my coach had he managed to get me a trial there and then it snowballed, I got an agent and eventually got a trial at Oxford and they signed me.

"It was a snowball really and that was a year and a half ago now.

"University football was brilliant, I loved going to Uni and the standard was actually very good - you have a lot of players that slip through the net and who have been at academies and have played semi pro so there is good talent there.

"I also made some fantastic friends there because you see each other a lot, not just through training but in general uni life and it prepared me well for this.

"I had some great coaching there so it helped me develop as a player as well as a person."

Warming-up: Jonny Giles warms up ahead of his debut

Durham University compete in the British Universities and College Sport (BUCS) Premier North and Giles gained promotion with them in his first year, but he never won the league, something the side did the year after he left.

But he still considers his time playing university football a highlight, saying: "I never won a BUCS championship but Durham won the league the year after I left which I was a bit gutted about but they did really well.

"In my first year we got promoted to the BUCS Premiership which was a real highlight of my Uni career but the year after I left they won it, which was very deserved and I went and watched a few of their games which was nice."

Some may argue that not being at an academy in a player’s development stage early on in their life will have a detrimental affect on their ability, and although the youngster admits he had to develop a lot of attributes he feels he can definitely have an impact on the game.

He added: "When I first came to Oxford I needed to develop a lot in things like technique and my footballing brain, I need to keep developing that but now I feel like I need some serious regular game time to prove I can do it on a bigger stage and keep kicking on.

"I’ve never been at an academy, I never went to one when I was younger and I just played Sunday league football which is obviously playing football, but they don’t teach you things like how to kick the ball and technical stuff so I just enjoyed playing football.

"I feel like when I got to Oxford I accelerated my football very quickly, they have great coaches there and tell you how to do things but at the same time they let you flourish and do your own thing.

On the ball: Jonny Giles against Southport

"At first it was tough but I feel like I got into the swing of things."

Gary Waddock became aware of Giles when a few of his former players rang him and told him to take a look at the youngster, which the Shots manager did and immediately liked what he saw, moving to sign him on loan until the end of the season and now the 22-year-old wants to make it a memorable time.

"He (Waddock) got a few calls from some of his friends and I came down and he’s a great manager, he knows what he is doing and he has a great rapport with his players.

"He’s serious when he needs to be but he can have a laugh and I think i’ll enjoy playing under him.

"Hopefully I’ll play a lot of games and get some game time but at the same time another one of my aims is to see where the team can go, take each game as it comes and keep winning and doing well."

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