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Praise for British athletes joining NFL football

The Olympic British basketball star and Chicago Bull's player Luol Deng is just one of many athletes who have taken to Twitter to express their delight that Menelik Watson and Laurence Okoye have made the transition to American football.

Lawrence Okoye signs with the San Francisco 49ers

Lawrence Okoye competing at London 2012. Credit: Marius Becker/DPA/Press Association Images

Lawrence Okoye has signed with five-time Super Bowl champions the San Francisco 49ers, despite remaining undrafted by the end of this week's NFL Draft.

Okoye announced the news that he would be joining the team as an undrafted free agent via his Twitter account.

British linebacker Tom Wort was also not drafted.

Read more: Menelik Watson begins dream NFL move in California

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Manchester-born Menelik Watson selected in NFL draft

Manchester-born Menelik Watson's NFL career is about to begin. Credit: Simon Cooper/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Manchester-born Menelik Watson has been selected by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

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Sussex sportsman's teenage dream to play NFL

Completing the British trio is 22-year-old Tom Wort from harboured dreams of joining the NFL as a teenager in Crawley, West Sussex.

  • He moved with his family to the US at 14, eventually settling in Texas where he began excelling in the high school leagues
  • Wort has gone on to enjoy a good career in the college leagues at the University of Oklahoma and is tipped as an outside chance to land a contract with a professional team

The first round of this year's NFL Draft takes place at New York's Radio City Music Hall, with subsequent rounds taking place across the following days

Manchester's Menelik Watson made to wait in NFL Draft

Manchester-born Menelik Watson has not been selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Watson, who overcame an impoverished childhood in Longsight was expected to be taken on the opening day of three at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

The NFL Draft lasts for three days Credit: Reuters

But, the offensive tackle, from Florida State, will now have to wait until tomorrow when his name will almost certainly be called in round two.

While not being snaffled at this stage may be something of a disappointment, a second-round berth would still be a considerable achievement for someone who did not know the sport's rules two years ago.

Manchester-born NFL hopeful awaits decision

Manchester-born Menelik Watson was a newcomer to American football just two years ago, but has since earned serious pedigree in the sport.

  • A move to the NFL will complete a dramatic turnaround for the 24-year-old, who saw his hopes of making a living playing the British brand of football end with a nasty ankle injury in his teens
  • Watson also tried his hand at basketball and boxing, before a scout spotted the potential for him to use his powerful 6ft 6in and 22-stone frame in American football in 2011.
  • The experience was an instant success and after excelling in his single season at Florida State University, Watson has been deemed ready to embark on a highly-lucrative professional career.

Olympian among Brits pursuing American sporting dream

Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye has never played American Football before, but is remarkably among three Britons who could turn professional by joining an NFL team.

Great Britain's Lawrence Okoye saw his medal hopes dashed in front of his home crowd last summer Credit: Press Association

The Londoner, who finished 12th in the men's discus final at London 2012, has reinvented himself over the past year as a potential pick for a team in the National Football League Draft, which is now underway.

The annual selection process in New York sees the 32 NFL teams take it in turns to select the new wave of non-professional players in a series of rounds.

At 6ft 6in and 21-stone, Okoye recently impressed scouts at tryouts in Texas who believe he could adapt his strength, speed and core discus skills to enjoy a career in their sport.

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