Eton deputy head boy Basil Tuma wows for Paul Ince’s Reading in stunning debut

Eton College deputy head boy Basil Tuma has chosen a career in which few of the posh school’s pupils have ever succeeded – professional football.

In its 582-year history the £46,000-a-year public school has turned out 20 Prime Ministers – including William Gladstone, Harold Macmillan and Boris Johnson – princes William and Harry plus a host of top lawyers and captains of industry. But 17-year-old Basil has shunned the lure of Downing Street, the Royal Courts Of Justice and the City to become a striker for Championship club Reading.

Former England star Paul Ince, who manages the club, picked him to make his debut against Stevenage in the EFL Cup last week.

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And ex-Manchester United and Liverpool midfielder said he was "proud" of his debutant's performance, which drew praise from fans.

"Basil Tuma is rapid," tweeted one on social media. Coach Jono Santry, who saw Tuma play earlier this year for the England Independent Schools under-18s team that he trains, said he had got every chance of becoming an Etonian football legend.

"He's frighteningly quick," he said. "Over the first 10 metres his acceleration is phenomenal. He likes the ball at his feet too, and when he scored a header we all thought, flipping heck, he can head the ball as well."

Tuma will return to classes at Eton to study for A-levels in Theology, Modern History and Spanish while hoping to continue his football dream.

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He is chairman of the Eton Society – reserved for prefects – whose former members include Johnson and actors Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston.

Tuma – who got 11 A* GCSEs last year in subjects including English Literature, Physics and Latin – is also secretary of Eton's Afro-Caribbean Society.

The Uganda-born star moved to the UK aged 11 and attended the Dragon prep school in Oxford before entering Eton in 2018. Tuma – who has played football for Uganda at under-17 level – also excels in athletics, has run 100 metres in 11.23 seconds and took bronze in the English Schools Championships in 2019.

His move into football came in January with his stunning appearance for England Independent Schools against Scotland. "That match was the game-changer. He was unreal that day," said Santry.

"The phone and email did not stop for days from agents and clubs galore. I think he had just gone into Reading for a trial and even they realised something was about to happen."

Though the playing fields of Eton are traditionally associated with cricket and rugby, football has recently been flourishing too.

Tudor Mendel-Idowu – who finished second in Channel 4’s Child Genius Of The Year in 2014 – plays for Chelsea under-18s and has represented England at under-17 level.

Two other Etonians have just signed for Arsenal's academy. While Will Donkin, 21, played for academy teams at Chelsea and Crystal Palace before joining Mosta in Malta.


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