Northern Ireland’s Leeds United trialist Jack Patterson ‘a dream to work with’
Record-breaking Irish League teenager Jack Patterson’s progress towards a move across the water has been heralded as a success story for the Northern Ireland football development system.
Patterson spent time this week on trial at Leeds United - with the Premier League club the latest professional side linked to the 15-year-old following reported interest from Rangers, Everton and West Ham United.
The Northern Ireland youth international created club history at Crusaders in January with a competitive appearance at 15 years 78 days.
A product of the famed Greenisland production line and current Irish FA JD Academy prospect, Patterson’s development has been celebrated as a showcase for the positives of the domestic foundation.
“I’ve been working with Jack for a few years across different levels and cannot speak highly enough of him as a player and person,” said Andy Waterworth, head of the Jordanstown-based Irish FA JD Academy which serves as Northern Ireland’s only full-time residential programme for elite young players. “An opportunity like this is the reward for a successful collaboration around a player’s development between Greenisland, Crusaders and the Academy programme.
“Everyone is working together for the benefit of the player.
“A big part of our approach at the Academy is to prepare the individual for a future in the game and when opportunities like trials across the water come along we have complete confidence Jack will embrace the situation in the right way.
“We know Jack can go over to somewhere like Leeds and represent football in Northern Ireland in the right way on and off the pitch.
“We view the Academy as a ‘mini-jump’ for players as they spend five days a week in Jordanstown sleeping, training and working on everything alongside, of course, education.
“No stone is left unturned and spending time in such a full-time environment allows players the chance, if getting the offer of a trial away, to focus on football rather than having to adjust to maybe being away from home for the first time or feeling out of the comfort zone.
“It is about providing a support network on a player’s pathway and we are all delighted Jack is getting this recognition for his hard work and, more importantly, have total confidence he can approach everything with the correct preparation thanks to his experiences with Greenisland, Crusaders and the Academy.”
Waterworth views Patterson as “a dream to work with” and highlighted his “brilliant appetite for the game”.
“Jack is a great kid, with real enthusiasm and someone we actually use as a role model to our younger Academy players,” continued Waterworth. “He has such a wise head on young shoulders and is always willing to take on board criticism.
“We are working hard on defining his role and it will be interesting to see his development either as a defensive midfielder or number eight.
“He’s so humble and dedicated, always asking questions and putting himself forward to be involved in situations.
“We take pride in the progress of someone like Jack taking this next step, aware that the foundations and preparations put in place help him deal with the opportunities now coming along.”
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