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Football: Josh Roberts signs two-year scholarship deal with Blackpool

JOSH Roberts has taken a huge step towards fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a professional footballer.

The former Holywell High School pupil, from Carmel, has signed a two-year scholarship deal with Championship side Blackpool, after bouncing back from a broken leg last season to secure the contract.

And the next step on the football ladder, should he make the grade with the Bloomfield Road club, will be a full-time deal in two years’ time.

Dad Bill Roberts, who has been a junior coach in Flintshire for a number of years, is proud of his son’s achievement.

“Since I can remember, football is all Josh thrives on,” said Bill. “He’s tried really hard to get to where he is and I don’t know anyone more dedicated than him.”

The left full-back has already starred on the international stage for Wales Under 16s, against the likes of Slovakia, France, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and recently received his cap from Welsh legends Ian Rush and Brian Flynn.

Josh, 16, made his first steps in the football world when he became the youngest player to represent his Ysgol Bro Carmel primary school team at the age of seven, competing against mostly 11-year-olds.

At 12, the Manchester United fan was made captain of his county team, representing Flintshire until he left school this year, and in his first season for Mold JFC he helped them to a league and cup double.

His third year with the club saw the rising star crowned the league’s Player of the Year. And at 14, he joined both the North Wales Football Development Trust and the Tranmere Rovers Academy, before Blackpool came knocking.

Josh’s coach at Blackpool, Gareth Barker, has also been impressed with the youngster’s application, as well as his natural talent.

He said: “We had him for a week and he broke his leg in the second game. So we said we’d look after him, get him rehabilitated and he stuck to the plan and gave a good show. Attitude is 50% of it at this level because we’re in a man’s world now. So he did well and came back and put in some good performances, technically and tactically.

“He’s shown that he’s got the capacity to play at this level and, more importantly, to learn, because they’ve got a hard two years in front of them.”

Blackpool’s youngsters will compete in the Youth Alliance this season, as well as the national FA Youth Cup, but all youth players will be eligible to represent the club’s second string.

“He’ll be playing reserve football before Christmas,” added Barker. “So he’ll be playing against guys with 200, 300, or 400 league appearances, which will really test him.

“But he’s got what we’re looking for. Technically he’s decent, he’s got a good left foot, his understanding is at the right level, so we’re looking forward to working with him and see how he develops now. Hopefully, he’ll kick on from here.”

Josh’s parents would like to thank Gareth Barker for all the help and support he has given Josh in his rehabilitation back into the game.