Soon after suffering the loss of Thierry Small
from Everton's Academy when he turned down a professional contract
and moved instead to Southampton, Everton announced the acquisition of a
very promising teenager from Sunderland's Academy in a deal reported to
be worth up to £1M.
The youngster, who was invited to an AC Milan training camp 5 years
ago, had long been earmarked as a potential star by academy chiefs at
Sunderland who were keen to develop young players and show them a
pathway through to the first team. However, he would become the latest
in a long line of youngsters to leave the League One club in
Sunderland Sporting Director, Kristjaan Speakman, spoke of their
disappointment at losing such a talent:
“We are disappointed that Francis and his family took the decision to
leave the football club earlier this summer, as we demonstrated a clear
pathway for him to continue his development into the first-team
“Throughout the summer, we have displayed our ability to retain and
attract young talent and we have started to honour our long-term
commitment that our homegrown players will be integral to our philosophy
and future success.
"Although we are disappointed Francis will not be a part of that
process, we wish him and his family well. All at SAFC wish Francis the
very best of luck for the future.”
Okoronkwo starts his Everton journey with Paul Tait's Under-18 side,
looking to help the largely fresh influx of young Scholars and
Schoolboys reverse a poor start to the season after seeing many of their
players from last season graduate early to David Unsworth's Under-23 side.
But it would be more than 2 months before the newcomer got his first
outing as a sub. He scored an amazing 6 goals in the next 7 games for
the U18s and in the FA Youth Cup. But he only played another 4 games for
the U18s, and 1 game for the U23s, before being sidelined, presumably by
injury, until the end of the season.
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