THEY made history by becoming Bolton Wanderers youngest ever line-up ­— but thanks to a partnership with Bolton College they were able to combine their professional career with their studies.

So successful has the partnership been that the college is developing closer links with Bolton Wanderers and Bolton Wanderers Community Trust to provide new opportunities for students with links to Bolton Wanderers.

Sixteen of the players who featured in recent first team matches are combining their Wanderers’ duties with classroom study at Bolton College.

Following the team’s impressive performance against Bradford City where the team narrowly lost 4-3 on penalties, the academy players were back at college for 9am the following morning, ready for a day of lessons.

The squad have consistently impressed Trotters fans and rival supporters with their spirit and determination on the pitch, putting in gutsy performances against players who in some cases, are almost twice their age.

The students, who are studying for a Level 3 BTEC in Sport, have also stepped into Bolton Wanderers’ history books; Finlay Hurford-Lockett became the youngest ever player in Wanderers’ history when he played against Coventry City in August, at the age of 16.

Matt Alexander will go down in the town’s football history too. In the same game, he became the youngest ever goalkeeper.

Matt, who made a great penalty save in his last game, is in the second year of his BTEC course at Bolton College. He said: “Playing for Wanderers so early on in my career is class, it’s something I could only dream of. I never expected to be in this position, so I’m making the most of it!”

Bill Webster, Principal of Bolton College, said: “These young men are a real credit to Bolton Wanderers and to the cCollege. Despite all the pressure they’ve faced, they’d behaved like true professionals. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Chairman of Bolton Wanderers, Sharon Brittan, added: “Our young players are the future of our fantastic club and we are thrilled that the partnership we have with Bolton College allows them to continue with their education.”

Phil Mason, Head of the Community Trust said: “We are delighted to be working with Bolton College and encouraging students through different offers at the College to be the best they can be and realise their potential”.

Press Office contacts:

Sarah Garforth or Steve Murphy at Bolton College

Tel: 01204 482 146 or 01204 482 140

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About Bolton College

Bolton College, part of the University of Bolton Group, is a leading North West vocational learning provider, with a £30 million turnover, and specialises in delivering vocational training – locally, regionally and nationally – to school leavers, adults and employers. The College employs over 600 industry-experienced staff members who deliver to over 14,500 students across a range of centres around Bolton – including the £75 million town-centre campus. The College aims to improve the employability of its students and to equip the workforce of the future.