STRIKER Conor Washington admits he feared his chance of playing professional football was over before Newport County AFC plucked him from obscurity last year.

Until he joined the Exiles just over 12 months ago Washington was working as a postman in Cambridgeshire and bagging 52 goals in 50 games for part-timers St Ives Town.

Now he’s a rising star in the Football League having hit three goals so far this season and, on the eve of tomorrow’s visit of Southend United, the 21-year-old striker has been rewarded with a new contract to stay at Rodney Parade until 2015.

Washington and defender Andrew Hughes penned their new deals yesterday and he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m delighted. It is a bit of security until the end of next season and me and Hughesy just need to keep improving and try to keep our places in the team,” said Washington.

“I’m really enjoying my football. This is my first professional club and the atmosphere is great here.

“Obviously the gaffer has proved that he believes if you’re good enough, you’re old enough and that is great for us.

“I’m just trying to do as well as I can when I get the chance and I think personally and as a team it is going well so far.”

And Washington says playing in the Football League is extra special for him because he’s experienced life outside the bubble of the professional game.

“I used to get up at 5.30am when I was a postman, just a couple of weeks before I came here,” he said.

“I was 20 and most lads get picked up by 15 or 16 so you do think you’ve missed the boat but you still have that dream in your mind.

“I love playing football and it means maybe a little bit more to me because I’ve experienced getting up and working at a normal job.”

And he’s not concerned about the extra competition with Christian Jolley set to return from the bench tomorrow and Aaron O’Connor also on the way back to fitness.

“Playing and training with the players we have here is great for me and it will be a big lift when we get Jolls and Azza back,” said Washington.

“Competition will be good for the gaffer and good for us players.”

As for the future, he’s still dreaming of climbing even higher up the football ladder.

He added: “Like any professional footballer I want to play at as high a level as I can. I’m trying to keep improving but it is luck as well sometimes that takes you higher.

“I’ll just keep working hard and hope to enjoy success with Newport County.”