teenage footballer James Wolfenden has taken his first step towards the big time, with League 2 club Accrington Stanley.
The 14-year-old from Grindleton, known as “Wolfie” to his mates, has won a place at the club’s Centre of Excellence, an academy dedicated to helping young players develop their talent and turn professional.
When he leaves high school in 2014, he has a guaranteed place on a sports-related course at Accrington and Rossendale College, and will divide his time between studies and training with the Reds, the club that climbed from obscurity into the Football League.
James, a student at Bowland High School and captain of the Year 10 football team, was keen on rugby until he was 12, then decided to concentrate on the round ball instead.
A right full back, he had trials at Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but Stanley were first to offer him a firm place in their academy on only his second week of trials.
Dad Mark said: “It takes some of the pressure off him knowing that he has a place at college waiting for him after his GCSEs.
“He’d love to turn pro with Accrington Stanley.”
Stanley’s Centre of Excellence director Stuart Delaney said: “It’s unusual for someone under 15 to be offered a scholarship.
“He’ll join us for two years and we’ll see to his education and training as he works towards becoming a professional footballer.”
He added: “Wolfie’s a grand lad, always nice and polite and always asking questions. He’s got the right temperament.
“He’s well grounded and he understands that he’s only 14 and still has a lot of work to do, but this is his first step in the right direction.”
PICTURE: Red ambition - James Wolfenden has earned a place at Accrington Stanley’s Centre of Excellence (s).