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Last Updated: Tuesday July 15 2008 15:07 GMT

Kids cheated out of footie dreams

Someone playing football

Young African footballers who dream of coming to the UK to play in the Premier League are being cheated by conmen.

An undercover BBC investigation found a fake agent in Nigeria who was promising to set up trials for talented kids, but lied about working for a British club.

Conmen demand cash from kids as young as 12, who put their details online hoping to be spotted by English agents.

But the players don't know English clubs would never demand money from someone they were considering signing.

Isiah, who was conned out of 250
Isiah lost 250 to a fake agent
Loads of kids in Africa dream of following in the footsteps of Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor or Chelsea's Didier Drogba by coming to the UK to play for top Premier League clubs.

But the Premier League says young African players can only end up at English clubs, like Arsenal or Chelsea, if they've played for their national side.

No help

The con artists rely on their victims not knowing how strict rules on allowing players from outside Europe to play in the UK can be.

Isiah, 18, borrowed 250 - about a month's wages - to pay an agent who promised him a trial with an English club. But when he'd handed over the cash, the agent disappeared.

"There was nowhere to go to, nobody to help me, nobody even wants to believe the story," he said.