Talented midfieldman Ben Whitfield has become the first player to graduate from Guiseley’s Academy with a professional contact.
The 18-year-old has signed an 18-month deal with Championship club Bournemouth.
Now the challenge is on for the academy, currently in its second season, to unearth more gems.
Guiseley officials are hopeful that Whitfield’s success will attract a bumper response for the next set of academy trials which take place at Leeds Trinity University on Satur-day, February 22.
Club chairman Phil Rogerson said: “We are all delighted for Ben and his success is a reward for the hard work that has gone into establishing the academy.
Rogerson confirmed that Guiseley will be compensated if Whitfield is sold on by Bournemouth in future years.
Manager Mark Bower, who gave Whitfield his first team debut in the West Riding County Cup against Selby earlier this season, believes the player has made a good move.
“It is fantastic for him to get the chance to sign for a Championship club. Others were interested in a player of such promise,” said Bower.
“He is a very good on the ball and though he is only small has great individual skills. He can beat a man and can also take a tackle.
“I am sure he will benefit from full-time training at Bournemouth. I have played against a side prepared by their manager Eddie Howe and the style of football should suit Ben.”
He added: “The challenge for the academy is to produce more players like him. The academy is still in its infancy but already its work is being recognised.
“Ben, Kyle Harrison and Luke Porritt have all come through to play in our first team in the West Riding County Cup this season.
“Thanks to the work of Dave Curry, Colin Seal and Danny Ellis the academy is flourishing and as first team manager I am hopeful it will continue to produce players capable of playing in our first team, or going on to bigger things.”
Whitfield, who had a trial with Huddersfield Town at the end of last year, said: “It’s taken a while to get sorted but I’m really happy to be a Bournemouth player.
“Eddie Howe (Cherries manager) was a big part of why I decided to come down here because of the way he coaches and his teams play.
“It’s a big move but that will make it easier for me and help me improve as a player.
“It’s a really exciting time for me. I just want to try and impress the manager, do well for the develop-ment squad and hopefully something will happen for me in the first team.”
l Any young player wishing to find out more details about the academy trials should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org