Teenage footballer Leighton Thomas Jr. got a surprise offer last week – an invite for a month’s tryout with English professional side Yeovil for a two-year scholarship.
Yeovil play in Division One, the third tier. Thomas, 16, from West Bay, plays for Future Sports Club here under technical director Roy “Huta” Ebanks.
Thomas attracted attention from many pro clubs when he was top scorer in the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 boys tournament here two years ago, finding the net 11 times.
Last year he went for a trial with Ipswich Town, an English Championship side, and impressed them.
Coach Huta said, “This opportunity for Leighton has come through the efforts of Grasspiece Promotions and Bruce Blake [first vice president and acting president of the Cayman Islands Football Association].”
Huta said, “I am immensely grateful and appreciative of [their] help and I trust this will open the doors for more players.”
Huta emphasized that Grasspiece and Blake are investing in talented youngsters like Thomas without “any ulterior motive.” He added that he ensures his players are not “fed with false information from their clubs about trials with top English clubs.”
Huta added that he would like to see all talented Cayman players given equal opportunities for trials with pro clubs, which he feels does not happen presently.
Yeovil recently reinstated its academy which Huta believes will give Thomas a far better chance of convincing them than a club with an established academy. Thomas left on Saturday for Yeovil and if he impresses them he will not return until Christmas.
Huta’s only concern is that Thomas may struggle initially to keep pace with the English style which is much faster than Cayman’s.
“Leighton has all the attributes and game awareness,” said Huta. “He also has the most important asset, the right attitude. He stands an excellent chance.”