At the age of 20 (21 in December), Xavier Vidal is finding his feet in the middle reaches of English football. But he has his heart set on one day playing international football, even if his path to so doing is anything but straightforward.
Xavier this year signed with Welling United in the Vanarama National League, formerly known as the Conference Premier League. The Wings have not had the best of seasons to date, though, languishing in 17th place in the 24-team league.
He started his career at Charlton Athletic when he was nine years old. He moved to Dulwich Hamlet in his mid-teens as a youth team scholar, then started playing for the first team at the age of 17, scoring the goal that won the league.
An attacking midfielder, Xavier’s family is from Dennery, and he has said that he is exceedingly interested in playing for Saint Lucia. On the strength of his most recent performance, he certainly looks a good addition to the Caribbean side.
On Tuesday, Welling entertained Grays for an FA Cup replay at Park View Road, after their initial tie ended in a 1-1 draw on Sunday. This time, the match ended up with a 4-0 victory for the Wingmen to put them in the FA Cup proper.
Vidal’s right-foot shot was parried by keeper Lamar Johnson and the loose ball fell perfectly for him to slam home from close range in the 22nd minute. The score held until halftime, despite Grays looking dangerous.
Five minutes into the second half, Joao Carlos was taken down in the box but Grays’ captain Cronin’s blasted penalty was blocked by keeper Mike McEntegart’s legs and the follow-up also cleared to maintain the Welling advantage.
Six minutes later, substitute Michael Bakare, on in the first half for Sahr Kabba, crossed and Vidal was on hand to head home. It was the first headed goal scored by young Xavier, now on the verge of his first-ever hat trick.
Just after the hour Vidal completed the trick after a quick breakaway, and the scoreline gained an unbalanced look when he scored his fourth of the night on 76 minutes, putting away an excellent strike from 20 yards.
Vidal also scored a “perfect” hat-trick, with a left-footed finish, a header for his second goal, and then a clinical right-foot strike for the third goal. Welling will now meet Northern Premier side Barwell away in the First Round of the Cup.
As for Vidal, the principal issue with his international ambitions is setting up his citizenship. He says he intends to contact the British High Commission at the earliest opportunity to get a better sense of where he stands, in hopes of pulling on a cerulean blue jersey in the not-too-distant future.