Altrincham’s teenage prodigy, Duncan Watmore, has earned a dream move to Premier League heavyweights Sunderland, for an undisclosed fee.
The 19-year-old will join the Black Cats academy on July 1 after playing a key role in Altrincham’s push for the Blue Square Bet North play-offs this season.
Watmore netted 14 times in his breakthrough season and is relishing the chance to prove himself at the North East club.
“I am delighted at the opportunity Sunderland have given me and excited by the move,” he told Altrincham’s official website.
“They have one of the finest academies in England and the Sunderland people have been very welcoming and professional throughout.”
Watmore was keen to thank Altrincham for the role they played in his development after making his first team breakthrough in the final game of the 2011/12 season.
“George Heslop brought me through the youth team, the manager Lee Sinnott has taught me so much, and the whole club have supported me all the way,” he said.
“Whatever happens in the future I will always be an Alty fan.”
He has signed a two-year contract at the Stadium of Light and will play in Kevin Ball’s under-21 side next season.
The youngster studies economics and finance at the University of Manchester and will switch his studies to Sunderland as part of the move.
Altrincham chairman Grahame Rowley said the young forward had attracted attention from numerous league clubs and the move was too good a chance to pass up.
“There will be some disappointment at not seeing Duncan in an Altrincham shirt next season,” he said.
“But there is also an immense sense of pride that he has deservedly earned himself a fantastic opportunity to play at the highest level.
“You are talking about a genuine product of this club, an Alty lad through and through, who came to us at 15 and spent a year with the juniors before working his way through the youth ranks and into the first team.
“This day was always going to come, because of his spectacular progress last season.”
Watmore was named ‘Fans’ player of the year’ and picked up the goal of the season award for a stunning solo effort against Corby Town this campaign.
Manager Lee Sinnott was delighted Watmore managed to secure the move and hopes the youngster can continue his progression under the watchful eye of Paulo Di Canio.
“He has been a popular member of the squad and Sunderland are acquiring a player with many years of development in him,” he said.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for him and we will watch his progress with interest.”
Watmore becomes the third player to move directly from Altrincham to the top flight, following in the footsteps of Kevin Ellison and Frank Carrodus.
Image courtesy of GRPhotography, with thanks.