Rocco Fregapane is a name that the Silkmen faithful who have kept up with the Academy’s progress will know very well.
Having signed a professional contract with Macclesfield Town in September 2020, and moving into the Macclesfield FC setup in June 2021, Fregapane is a real home-grown success story to come from the Macclesfield FC BTEC programme.
Speaking to Rocco about his path from trialist to first-teamer, it’s clear to see just how much it meant to represent his hometown.
“It was a really easy decision for me to sign up for the Academy programme. I always believed in my ability to be able to make it into the First Team, and being from Macclesfield myself, it was the perfect fit.
“There was interest from other clubs but as soon as I became aware of the Macclesfield BTEC programme I knew that it was the one for me.”
Fregapane immediately found his feet in the Silkmen Academy and thrived under the guidance of Academy Manager Paul McGuire.
“It was such a welcoming environment right from the beginning. Being a brand new programme no one really knew what to expect but it was very exciting to be a part of. I found it easy to make friends on the course because of how welcoming everyone was and that definitely helped build a real team spirit on and off the pitch.”
Rocco’s self-belief in his footballing abilities was echoed by the coaches at the Leasing.com Stadium, something which certainly boosted his performances and lead to him being given the captain’s armband.
“The coaches really pushed me to make the most of my ability. When Paul made me captain it really meant a lot to me and showed that he clearly had faith in me to be a leader and set an example to the other lads.”
As well as excelling on the pitch, Rocco’s academic grades were also something to be very proud of, highlighting the Academy’s commitment to both footballing and educational growth of it’s students.
“Coming out with two D* and a D from the college course was really satisfying for me. The tutors make sure that you get a perfect balance of football and education so that no matter what, you’ve got a plan for the future once graduating through the programme.
“There was so much support from the college – especially towards the end when they made sure we had all the options of what we could do next and didn’t try and pressure anyone into doing something they wouldn’t be happy with in the long run.”
As Rocco’s performances in the classroom were impressing, so were his performances on the pitch, and having attended a number of First Team training sessions, he was part of the squad selected to represent Macclesfield Town in the FA Cup First Round Proper tie against Kingstonian.
“It was such a proud moment for me making my debut for the First Team. Although it was a far from ideal situation with what was going on at the Club at the time, on a personal level I was just delighted that my hard work had given me this opportunity and it was something that I was not going to take lightly.
“Learning from League Two players was such an amazing experience, it massively opened my eyes to how quick and physical the professional game is. The wealth of experience that the other First Team players had really rubbed off on me and definitely helped me raise my game even further as I fought for a place in the matchday squads.”
“Every time I pull on the Macclesfield shirt whether it’s for the BTEC Academy, Under 23’s, Reserves or the First Team I always give my all and to be able to do that in front of The Silkmen faithful for the first time was really special.”
Following on from his First Team debut, Rocco became the first BTEC Academy graduate signed on a professional contract with Macclesfield Town in September 2020 – a huge achievement for both Rocco himself, and also the Academy programme.
“Signing my first professional contract was easily one of the best moments in my career so far. To come through the BTEC programme and prove myself to be worthy of signing for the First Team really made me feel great as it proved that my hard work was paying off.”
Unfortunately though, issues off the field at Macclesfield Town meant that just over a week later, the Club was liquidated and Rocco’s professional career was put on hold.
“Obviously it was a devastating time for everyone at the Club, no one really knew what was going to happen next but the coaches and staff within the programme were absolutely fantastic. They were so supportive and answered all of our questions to the best of their ability which really helped to settle everyone at such an uncertain time.”
Despite signing for Witton Albion following the liquidation of Macclesfield Town, Rocco continued as part of the BTEC Programme and it wasn’t long before he was back in SK11. June 2021 saw Rocco announced as Danny Whitaker’s tenth signing for Macclesfield Football Club, a move that was met with great positivity from the Silkmen supporters.
“Everything that Rob and Robbie have done for the Club is just amazing. From such a low point in September 2020 it’s incredible to see the amount of hard work that has been put in and there was no question in my mind that I’d be back.
“Seeing all the supporter’s comments when it was announced on social media as well was really overwhelming; I was tremendously grateful for the opportunity to represent such an amazing fanbase.”
It’s clear to see that Rocco’s decision to join the Macclesfield BTEC Academy is one that continues to shape his future in a positive manner – even now he has departed the Leasing.com Stadium and he urges anyone considering trialling to give it a go.
“If you want the chance to progress your footballing ability while also working on receiving a good education it’s a no brainer. Macclesfield’s BTEC Academy really gives you the perfect balance on and off the pitch and if you put in the work, the opportunities that the course gives you are amazing.”
Do you think you have what it takes to follow in Rocco’s footsteps?
If you do, then don’t hesitate and send an enquiry email to us at [email protected] for more information on trial dates and how to sign up.