Former Burwell Tiger joins Man City
The path from Burwell Tigers to Manchester City is hardly a well-trodden one, but it has proven to be the perfect route for Ben Knight.
Earlier this week the Reach-raised teenager completed his dream move to the Premier League champions from Ipswich Town, for a fee believed to be in the region of £1m.
The 16-year-old, who is an England youth international, has initially signed a scholarship deal which will convert into a professional contract when he turns 17 in November.
And it all started for the former Bottisham Village College pupil at under-7s level in a Tigers shirt.
He spent just one year with the club, scoring 79 goals in a single mini league season – a tally that ultimately captured the attention of Ipswich scouts.
Club manager Jack Smith, who was an assistant coach of the team that Knight was a part of, said: “It was obvious from very early on how gifted Ben was.
“He scored an amazing amount of goals and it was no surprise when Ipswich snapped him up.
“Even at that young age he had an incredible touch and was almost Lionel Messi-like in how he kept the ball so close to his feet.
“It is great for Ben and also a proud moment for the club. To see someone that played for our youth team move to the Premier League and play for England is fantastic.”
Smith is also hopeful that Knight’s story can act as a source of inspiration for the current members of the Tigers’ youth set-up.
Reaching the levels of Man City is of course a tall order, but Knight has shown that nothing is impossible.
“Ben was just a lad whose parents took him to training so he could play football with his friends,” added Smith.
“We are a grassroots club and it is great to see what Ben has done after starting with us.
“Hopefully he will become a bit of an idol for the youngsters we have – he should be someone to look up to for them.
“It would be brilliant to see Ben kick on from here and eventually play in the Premier League and the senior England team.”
Knight is said to have chosen Man City ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, while Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco are believed to have previously tracked the youngster.
The early reports are that the Citizens plan to develop Knight in-house over the next two to three seasons, rather than look to loan him out to a Football League club.