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Sheffield United sign promising Matlock teenager

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Matlock Town’s academy success continues following 16-year-old Zak Brunt’s move to Sheffield United.

Following Max Hunt’s move to Derby County, Brunt becomes the second player from the Gladiators’ academy to join a Championship club.

Brunt joined Matlock in 2017, captained the academy side last season and made the step up to the first team level in the Evo-Stik Premier.

Development manager and academy director Justin Tellus said it was another “landmark moment” for the Gladiators.

He said: “To see our second Matlock Town FC Academy player move to a professional championship club in the last six months just enhances our reputation as being one of the best non-league development systems in the country.

“Zak is a special talent and was always destined for the professional game. I am pleased we played a big part in his development and journey. While I am so pleased for the hard working lad and his amazing family who have supported their son over many years.

“A big thank you goes to our development technical staff and the board of directors for their support in this process and I hope this news motivates our current young players to work hard and follow their dreams.”

Brunt added: “I would like to place on record my thanks to Matlock Town FC, the staff and supporters. My experience with the Gladiators has been invaluable to me, and it’s put me in a good place mentally for the challenges that lay ahead.

“I want to thank the previous gaffers, Kirky (Glen Kirkwood) and Hoppo (Craig Hopkins) who gave me an opportunity in the first team and gave me my debut. That day will stay with me forever. I’d also like to thank Dave Hoole (current manager) and Shaun Harrad (assistant-player manager) who continued to have faith in me by allowing me more game time.

“My team mates have been absolutely fantastic, from the U16s up to and including the first team. Without their encouragement things would have been much more difficult for me.

“Thank you to all the coaching staff who have pushed me and praised me. Thank you also to those away from the field, who made me feel welcome, the girls in the lounge, the ladies in the cafe, the stewards and groundsman.

“I’d like to say a special thank you to Tom Wright, Keith Brown and Josh Eades for their help, support and encouragement. While Justin Tellus deserves a special mention as he’s the guy who got me to Matlock Town FC in the first place and was a big part in my move to Sheffield United. Thank you Justin from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve done.

“Finally thank you to the amazing fans who have always been positive with me.

“Now I’m a Sheffield United player and I have to show I am worthy of the move by working hard and maintaining my self-belief. But I’ll always have a place in my heart for Matlock Town FC, and I’ll be there to support the boys whenever I can.

“Thank you Matlock Town FC and Niall (my brother) will still be coming to support the lads, and is looking forward to trying out the new wheelchair facility behind the goal.”