History-making teenager Zak Brunt says he is confident that signing for Matlock Town will create the perfect learning environment for him to develop.
Zak, who has only just turned 16, became the Gladiators’ youngest-ever first-teamer when sent on as a substitute against Witton Albion, and in his few appearances for Town, it is clear that he is a talented player.
After enjoying his first month with the club, he said: “It’s different from anything I’ve done before. At training, everyone is fighting for their place on a Saturday and they’re trying to get to a stage where they’re earning a living out of it. You can see that because it’s so competitive.
“The team fall short if you’re not putting your effort in, so I think that makes the group much tighter.
“I think I’m going to improve and mature, so even if my stay at the club is just for this year, it will do me so much good as a player and also as a character in the changing room.”
Zak and his father Glen both recently featured in a BBC article and also on regional TV discussing the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan and also his former club, Derby County, which saw a backlash on the pair from disgruntled Rams fans.
After agreeing that leaving Derby was best for his development, but still sharing an amicable relationship with the club, there was a suggestion by Rams fans that this was not the first time he had quit, citing his previous spells at the academies of Manchester City and Aston Villa.
Glen said: “We could have handled things better. We’re big enough to stand up and say we’ve got things wrong, so we just expect that from the other side as well.
“There was an in-house incident at Manchester City which was wasn’t due to a fall-out. Again, we felt it was best for Zak that he left City after a bullying incident, but that’s by the bye. There was only really a discrepancy with Aston Villa.”
Zak added: “It wasn’t really a huge falling-out at Villa. I like to do my skills and stuff and they tried to say no, just play simple. But I still wanted to play my game and I still wanted to have my identity.”
Now, Zak’s time at City, Villa and, for a short time, Atletico Madrid also, is history. It’s time to take his opportunity at Causeway Lane.
Matlock’s development manager Justin Tellus and Derby County U23s’ manager Craig Short both had big roles to play in bringing Zak to Matlock, where he has linked up initially with the pre-academy U16s side, as well as the first team.
Tellus said: “I’d like to thank Craig for his support and help in bringing Zak to Matlock and wish Zak all the best within our development system and first team.”