Crusaders chairman Ronnie Millar says rising star Jack Patterson will leave the club with the best wishes of everyone at Seaview when he becomes the latest teenage sensation to pursue a career in professional football across the water.
The Ballyclare High pupil is expected to join Premier League side Everton once his studies are concluded.
Patterson’s move follows hot on the heels of Trai Hume’s switch to Sunderland and Callum Marshall continuing his development at West Ham.
The 16-year-old former Greenisland ace, who also caught the eye of the Hammers, Leeds United and Rangers, has already gained first team experience with Stephen Baxter’s side and shown a maturity beyond his teenage years.
“Jack will get his move across the water once he’s finished his school year,” said Millar. “He played in midfield a few matches last season and he played like an experienced player, his distribution of the ball as excellent and it was easy to see why there was interest in him.
“I think we will see more opportunities for our young players to move to England or Scotland. They can make a great career in football. Our clubs will receive fees for the lads but it’s also important their progress is not blocked and that’s why there needs to be compromise in these deals. Clubs certainly don’t want to hold players back.
“Gavin Whyte and Stuart Dallas took our league by storm learned their graft here and that aided their careers but you also can’t deprive young players of these exciting opportunities. Jack will leave with our warm good wishes. When the boys’ careers take off it reflects well on our league. Stuart (Dallas) shows his versatility for Leed United and Northern Ireland and he learned that in the Irish League.”
Ω Northern Ireland will travel to Luxembourg on March 25 in one of two friendlies in preparation for the summer’s Nations League campaign.
The Irish FA say the second friendly will be announced “soon”.
Northern Ireland and Luxembourg last met in a friendly in September, 2019 when a Kevin Malget own goal gave Northern Ireland a narrow 1-0 win in Belfast.