BROWNE ON THE BALL: Prince Vince, the boy who could be King at Boston United

Sam Vince has impressed for Boston United.
Sam Vince has impressed for Boston United.

The law of the land states that Sam Vince is old enough to join our Armed Forces and go to war.

It is perfectly legal for him to drive a car at speeds of 70mph on a motorway, get married, father a child and pocket £145m on the EuroMillions.

Now, before his worried parents write in to complain, I would like to point out I’m not suggesting he rushes out and does any of the above (especially not all of them this week as he has an important FA Trophy contests to prepare for).

The point I’m trying to make is about responsibility.

If the Queen and Prime Minister are perfectly happy for a 17-year-old to be issued with a weapon designed to kill and told to go and give the Taliban what for, then why do us football fans always get the jitters when a young man of his age is given a pair of gloves and stuck in between the posts.

I suppose it’s a matter of experience, in goalkeeping terms, at least.

In football, managers so regularly tell us that age doesn’t matter, if a kid is good enough to play he plays.

It’s this thinking which allowed the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, James Milner and Mikael Forssell to score goals in the Premier League at an age where I was still at school and praying for a fourth hair to appear on my top lip.

But they are outfield players and it’s a little easier to learn from your mistakes when you’re one of 10.

A keeper is the last line of defence, and few managers want their promising talents carrying out their apprenticeship with the number one jersey each week.

Take Thibaut Courtois as an example.

He’s a 21-year-old keeper who has been deemed good enough to play 14 times for the Belgian national team.

He’s good enough to have played 41 times for Genk in Belgium’s top flight.

He’s now close to marking his 100th appearance for Atletico Madrid, who are currently joint top with Barcelona in La Liga, having conceded just nine times in 15 matches.

But Chelsea - his parent club with whom he is two years into a five-year-deal - are yet to hand him his debut, preferring to let him cut his teeth (and make his mistakes) elsewhere.

Perhaps that thinking is quite sensible when you consider the dog’s abuse David de Gea got for a few forgiveable errors in his debut season in the Premier League, aged just 21 at the time.

As well as footballing development, there’s also a matter of physical development.

Vince is talented enough, big enough and strong enough to play for the Pilgrims, but he’s not yet the finished article.

Stand him next to teammate Stefan Galinski and it’s hard to believe that the defender is just two years older. They may be close in age, but such is a person’s development at that age that it’s no shock that the law of the land also states Galinski can purchase beer and cigarettes, hire The Exorcist from the video shop and subscribe to late-night adult satellite channels which don’t show up on your credit card bill, while Vince cannot.

But whether Vince has matured enough to hold down the number one slot or not doesn’t matter in the FA Trophy, where he is United’s only option as long as Ashley Timms remains out of favour.

He has played twice in the competition, and on both occasions handled the occasion superbly as the Pilgrims progressed.

Add that to the Lincs Senior Shield clash at Gainsborough last season and Boston have won every match he has started for the club.

With Lewis in their ranks, Boston United already have their King.

But in Vince they have their prince, a young pretender waiting for the day he can claim the throne.

That may not be for a number of years yet.

But Vince has already proved with his cameos that he is maturing nicely into a talented footballer, whose development is being handled very well by his club.

United’s future looks bright... just don’t let him run off and join the Army.