Wales have recently played two U19 international friendly fixtures against Iceland at the Corbett Sports Stadium in Rhyl, featuring one of our Academy graduates.
The first game took place on September 2nd and the second a couple of days later, with Jack Vale featuring in both.
A product of TNS’ Academy – where he spent four years – Jack has “developed into a fine young footballer, with a superb attitude to learning and improving”, according to his former coach at Park Hall, Jason Brindley.
Sixteen-year-old Jack caught the eye of many while still at the Welsh champions, in particular impressing at the Cymru Cup where he represented Central Wales.
With teams in the English system starting to show serious interest, the likes of Bury and Huddersfield Town made enquiries after he won two Manchester Easter Cups with TNS. Both were on the same day, as he played not only for his own age group but also the one above.
Jack, however, had already been in talks with one-time English Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers. After visiting their training complex and completing a trial period, that also allowed Jack to finish his U14s season with The New Saints, he then competed a move to Blackburn, relocating to the north-west and continuing his education as well as pursuing his footballing dream.
Jack has continued to impress at Ewood Park and on numerous occasions has played for older age groups.
This summer he has signed a Scholarship contract as his hard work pays off, recognised not only at Blackburn Rovers but also by the national team.
His former TNS coach, Jason Brindley, commented: “I am ever so proud of Jack. When I first started working with him and our Under-13s you could see the quality that he possessed, although he lacked a little bit of confidence, which was surprising. He used to glide past people and he never seemed to be going above jog-pace, which was incredible.”
Jason continued with his praise, “One of Jack’s main attributes was his willingness to improve. He was always constantly after feedback from games and from training on what he could have done better – I loved that from Jack. Good players want criticism, great players crave it.”
“Criticism is maybe not the right word but he was so hungry to do better. Jack used to message me asking when the pitch was available and would come down to do one-on-one work on what we felt he needed to focus on. He wanted to be the best that he could be and I’m not surprised at all how well he has done.”
“Its great as a football coach to see a player that you have worked with doing well – that’s the best thing, having a hand in helping them reach and live their dream. Knowing Jack though, he will always be wanting to better himself and I know he will continue to get better and better.” Jason concluded.
Everyone at The New Saints FC wishes Jack all the very best for the future and for those who are wondering what Llongyfarchiadau means – it is congratulations in Welsh!
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Academy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The lead photograph: NEWPORT, WALES – Tuesday, April 26, 2016: Wales Jack Vale in action against Belgium during the Boys U15s Tri-Nations Tournament at Dragon Park. (Pic by Mark Hawkins/Propaganda)