Spennymoor Town Under 18 players Lewis King and Craig Ellison have secured professional contracts with Burnley Football Club.
Striker Ellison, and defender King, have been training with the club’s academy in recent weeks and impressed during a trial spell at Turf Moor. The pair have signed contracts till the end of the season.
Upon signing his contract, Ellison said: “I’m over the moon! It’s a big step and a much higher standard than I’ve been playing. I’ve wanted to be a footballer since I was around eight years old.
“Despite knowing a few clubs were interested, I knew Burnley was the right club for me after I went on trial there and got on well with the players and coaches.
“I have loved every minute of my time at Spennymoor. I will miss the lads and would like to say thank you to Gary and Cloughy for their coaching and work that has helped me improve as a player.”
Centre-back King was also in high spirits after joining the Premier League club. He said: “After we enjoyed a successful run in the Youth Cup, myself and Craig went on trial with Burnley. It’s every kid’s dream to play at a high level and make a living from playing football.
“Spennymoor has helped me develop as a player and a person, and I would like to say a big thank you to the coaches and management team who have pushed me every week.”
Spennymoor Town Under 18’s manager, Gary Farley, who has overseen Ellison and King’s development, said: “Myself and Liam are delighted for the boys, as they have been a credit to themselves and the club, and it’s a great coup for the academy.
“What was a dream can now become a reality for the young players. A lot of credit has to go to Liam and the head of the academy, Ryan Murray, as the set-up is thriving and it’s a fantastic representation of the club.
“I think the lads can go a long way as they are such level-headed boys. They are mentally tough on and off the pitch, and if they keep working hard and keep their feet on the ground they will go far.”
First Team Manager Jason Ainsley, who selected King and Ellison in the Durham Challenge Cup win at Billingham in October, said: “Craig and Lewis both have a fabulous opportunity and huge praise should go to Gary Farley, Liam Clough and Ryan Murray for the work they have put in.
“If I had one piece of advice for the lads, it would be to eat the right things, prepare well and train as hard as they can. It’s a great opportunity for them to excel at a top football club. It’s just the first step as we hope that more lads at Spennymoor Town can go on to play for professional clubs.”
Burnley Academy Manager, Jonathan Pepper, believes Ellison and King will be strong additions to their set-up: “The lads didn’t look out of place during their time here. We have been tracking and monitoring their progress for around two months.
“Craig is a throwback to an old-fashioned striker and is not afraid to be physical and compete, something which is rare with academy players.
“Lewis is very composed on the ball and reads the game well, and he could potentially play a number of positions as it’s clear that he is a good all-round footballer.
“First, we will get them integrated into the group and look at areas for development. In terms of the future, we will be looking to move them into the Under 23 side which would get them a little bit closer to the first team.
“At some stage, we would look at possibly sending them out on loan, but that is very much in the long-term plan.”
Tommy Miller Snr, Moors’ Head of Recruitment, believes the club will benefit from the double swoop: “If Craig and Lewis do well, Spennymoor Town will do well. People will now see that a Premier League club has signed two players from us, which will open up opportunities and see other scouts from big clubs come to our games.”