Harry’s footy dream comes true as he joins Barnsley FC academy

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Football-mad Harry Lovitt’s dream has come true after he was signed by Barnsley FC’s academy.

Nine-year-old Harry, of Carlton Street, Normanton, was spotted while playing for his local team, Altofts Juniors, which he joined when he was just four.

His mum Trudi Lovitt said: “We’re so proud of him, he just had a really big smile on his face after finding out.

“With young boys you never know if it’s going to happen or not so it was such a shock for us at first.

“It’s nice for him, he’s been working really hard and we’re all going to support him, all we ever watch is football.”

The young midfielder was asked by Barnsley to attend a development centre in Pontefract last October, before being moved on to Barnsley’s Oakwell facility to hone his skills in February.

Harry, a pupil at Normanton Common Primary School, was called up to play in an academy tournament, where he netted three goals and impressed the club’s coaches who then offered him the one-year contract with the academy under 10s squad.

Mark Wilkinson, manager of Altofts Juniors under 10s, said: “I’ve coached Harry for five years. I’m gutted he’s leaving us but I am made up for him and his family.

“He is one of those kids who would play 23 hours a day if he could – if he has a football at his feet, he has a smile on his face.

“We have boys who are competitive but Harry just has that special touch and as a coach he’s been a joy to have in the team: he has raw talent and a really good attitude.

“The last two years Harry never missed a match or a training session, he was the sort of kid who was the first to arrive and the last to leave.

“He’s someone who I would say actually has the potential to make it all the way in football and a lot of that is down to his attitude.”

Harry isn’t the only player at Altofts Juniors to attract academy interest this year, as nine-year-old Thomas Simpson, of Normanton, has been training with Rotherham United’s academy development squad.

Barnsley’s academy has a track record of producing home-grown talents. Everton and England international John Stones, whose grandad lives in Hemsworth, progressed through the academy at Oakwell, making his debut for the Tykes in March 2012. Stones, 20, was poached by Everton the following January and was named by England manager Roy Hodgson in his World Cup standby list.