One particular Non League hotshot signs for a Premier League side – doing the equivalent of Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood to Leicester.
Hastings United, of the eighth tier, have seen their prospect Benn Ward sign a two-year scholarship with top flight club Burnley.
The 17 year old has made an impressive start to the season, with the midfielder breaking into the first team and made ten appearances so far this campaign.
He helped them to the top of the Isthmian League South East Division table before non league football was halted once again. The season before that Hastings were top them too!
Benn Ward will be joining Burnley’s academy with immediate effect in a move that is in association with MONDO Sports Management.
— Hastings United FC (@hastingsufc) January 13, 2021
He had a trial with the Clarets in November 2020 after getting spotted by Nicky Law, the club academy recruitment. He is also a former youngster of Brighton & Hove Albion.
“The facilities here are great, the stadium and the training ground, it’s amazing and I can’t wait to get going now.
“I just want to hopefully progress here and do well for the club and see where that takes me here.”
The young lad said: “I am absolutely delighted to have signed for Premier League club Burnley. Last summer, I joined Hastings United (my hometown club) after chats with Chris (Agutter – first team manager), appreciating his philosophy and the role he saw for me in the first team at just 16. I’ll always be extremely grateful to him, the club and the fans for believing in me and giving me the opportunity.
“I also want to thank my parents and family for everything, without their support I wouldn’t be here today. And the same goes to my agents at MONDO Sports Management who worked hard to get me scouted and then pull the deal together with Burnley.
“I can’t wait to get started and do everyone proud!”
CEO of Hastings United, Billy Wood, added: “I would like to congratulate Benn on such an exciting move. Since coming to the Us he has shown maturity above his years around the club, both on and off the pitch.
“Benn’s move is another shining example that Hastings United Football Club not only trusts young players to grasp the opportunity but is a club very much on the radar of professional football clubs, highlighting the talent within our first team and academy.
“Over the past few years we have had players out on trial at Premier League and Championship clubs and have seen a handful make the step up to professional football, however Benn’s move will be seen as the most prolific so far and we are all behind him.
“I would like to put on record the support and work of MONDO. Player representatives sometimes get tarnished by the nature of the business, however the team there have been a pleasure to deal with – aA team dedicated to their players but with an understanding of where they are coming from, quite a delight to what I have had to deal with previously. Both MONDO and Burnley Football Club have shown class throughout this process, the way it should be done.
“Benn – go wear the claret and blue with pride and make this town proud! Be an example to your generation and the next at the Hastings United Academy.”
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) January 13, 2021
His now former manager Agutter said: “I am so happy for Benn, he is such a hungry and hard-working young man who from day one has put his personality and will on the team. Benn is a very likeable man who we all will be willing on to do his absolute best at Burnley.
“While Benn will be missed, the amazing work within the Academy continues meaning we have no short of supply of talented young men striving to take his spot.”
Elliott Raggio, the director of MONDO Sports Management, says: “The whole team at MONDO Sports Management are extremely proud to announce Benn’s move into the Premier League. Benn is one of the hardest working, most focused young prospects we have had the pleasure in working with, and this move is nothing less than thoroughly deserved for his dedication and patience.
“We would like to thank Billy and Chris at Hastings United for always putting Benn and their players first. Nick and Jon at Burnley FC for really believing in Benn and giving him the opportunity. And thank must also go to Benn’s previous coaches; Gary Mansell and Sas Parsad for giving Benn their support over the past couple of years. It has been an enjoyable and seamless transfer, and this is a credit to all parties involved.
“Congratulations again to Benn and his family – he will no doubt go on to inspire the next generation of local talent in Sussex to make it into the elite Professional game.”
Good to be back⚽️ pic.twitter.com/5arAYFggSA
— Benn Ward (@BennWard1) August 2, 2020
Fans gave their reaction after seeing that the Non League hotshot signs for a Premier League side…
@jlovetto: Well done on all sides here… Go smash it Benn
@HUFCPODCAST: Well done that lad… All the best for the future @BennWard1
@otters82: Well done @BennWard1 really pleased for you. All the best with move and keep up the hard work
@Eli_Lester96: Well done to @AgutterChris and the team, constantly developing great young players and giving them pathways into professional game
@hufcsoutheast: Brilliant news .. hope it goes well as you could see when playing for us he had talent and could go alot higher
@owenradley: Wow, what a great move. Well done Benn. Pleasure to officiate you over the years. Enjoy the Burnley weather!
@RyanCooper8: Another one that’s benefited and gained great opportunity’s due to the trust and coaching from @AgutterChris… also what a great lad
@Ollyisgreat: All the best Benn, from a Burnley fan in Hastings
@Nick_Coleman65: Fantastic News well done Benn, huge congratulations. Credit to @AgutterChris and all those who work and support the acadamy.
@KevinVMartinGML: Great news for a very talented young player and yet another success story coming out of @hastingsufc @AgutterChris keeps developing these lads and long may it continue
@RussellIansmal1: Always had the ability and drive to progress ,thought that from the first time l saw him play.Really pleased for him but got to maintain the high standards he has set himself, great news
@_TimMiller: Another young player developed by @hastingsufc gets his move into professional football, good luck Benn at @BurnleyOfficial. Hastings is a great club for young players looking to develop and progress in the game. Will be many more players like Benn
@Stlenssport: Another one who is on his way to the top. Great stuff @BenWard1 and @hastingsufc. Good luck to you and hopefully you will make a good career for yourself
@hufcsoutheast: Got yourself a quality player there
@Beechy313: A lot of people taking highly of him! Watch out for this prospect!