Brodie Litchfield has become the first graduate of Sheffield United’s Futures programme to sign a development contract with the League One club, writes James Shield.
Litchfield, aged 17, was awarded a place at the Redtooth Academy after impressing coaches on the pioneering scheme which, according to its architect Nick Cox, is “designed to give late developing players” a “chance to stay closely connected with the professional game.”
Cox, manager of the Redtooth Academy, said: “We are delighted to offer Brodie the opportunity to continue his development as part of our programme. There is a lot of hard work left for him to do but right now he should be celebrating what is a huge achievement.
“This is a great success for the ‘United Futures’ programme in only its first year. In effect, the programme has given Brodie a second chance.
“There is no reason why other youngsters won’t follow the example set by Brodie and our aim is to see a graduate of the programme play at Bramall Lane.”
Having made his first team debut for Stocksbridge Park Steels last term, Litchfield will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Jamie Vardy who also represented the non-league club before joining Leicester City. Like Vardy, Litchfield was rejected by Sheffield Wednesday before forcing his way into Steels’ starting eleven.
United Futures, which is scheduled to welcome its second intake later this year, is run in tandem with Sheffield College.
“Great credit must go to Lee Dunn who has designed and managed the football element of the programme,” Cox said. “He has worked very closely with the staff at Sheffield College, most notably Jonny Wathen, to ensure that the first cohort of players receive a great experience both on and off the pitch.
“A huge thank you must go to Allen Bethell and his team at Stocksbridge who have supported Brodie every step of the way to help him achieve this opportunity. Moving forward both Sheffield College and ourselves will be working closely with Stocksbridge.”
Meanwhile, players eligible for under-17 or under-18 football this season are invited to trial to become the next Brodie Litchfield on August 4th and 5th respectively. Contact Lee.Dunn@sheffcol.ac.uk for further details.