CANON Slade sports teacher Craig Robinson has tipped former pupil Ashley Fletcher for the top after Manchester United signed him on a professional contract.
The 18-year-old footballer was the Bolton school’s star striker before leaving two years ago – after achieving 12 GCSEs at A and B – to follow his dream at Old Trafford.
After scoring 15 goals for the United Under-18s this season, as well as finding the net against Shakhtar Donetsk for the U19s in the UEFA Youth League, he certainly looks destined for big things.
And Mr Robinson believes Fletcher’s attitude, not just his talent, will see him go far.
“When young lads get picked up by Football League or Premier League clubs, a lot of them choose not to play for their schools anymore,” he explained.
“But Ashley was never like that – he played every game for us that he possibly could.
“He worked very hard in everything he did, in his school work as well as his football, and was a credit to Canon Slade.
“We are obviously very proud to have helped play a part in his development and over the moon he has been given this chance at Manchester United.
“We wish him and his family well.”
Ashley, who first started playing football for The Oaks Primary School and junior side Eagley Rangers, also represented Canon Slade at cricket, basketball and athletics.
Bolton Wanderers were the first league club to pick up on his talents, signing him to their academy when he was nine years old, but he was invited to join Manchester United at 13 and has never looked back.
The Astley Bridge-based teenager has struck up a lethal partnership with fellow Red Devils hopeful James Wilson, who recently scored twice on his first-team debut against Hull.
Interim manager Ryan Giggs could just have easily called on Ashley to make his Old Trafford bow, but for an injury, which has curtailed his chances since January.
But dad Mike believes his chance will come, if he continues to show the same kind of dedication he did playing for Canon Slade.
“As his parents, we insisted on Ashley maintaining his links with the school team,” said Mike.
“We felt it was important to keep his feet on the ground and it was something Manchester United were also very keen on.
“We are just grateful to the school and to Ashley’s teachers for all the help they have given him along the way.”