Striker Steven Simpson has signed his first professional contract with Barnsley FC’s Academy after impressing during his time in Reds in the Community’s Shadow Scholarship programme.
He becomes the second Shadow Scholar to pen a deal with the Barnsley FC Academy after defender Callum Walmsley in 2019.
The striker, originally from Canada, came to the UK five years ago and joined Reds in the Community’s Shadow Scholarship programme last year.
He was an integral part of the U23’s title-winning side that won the National Football Youth League in 2019/20 and was awarded Player’s Player at the end of season awards.
Prior to last season, Simpson was playing non-league football on a part-time basis, but opted to join the Shadow Scholarship programme in the hope of further progressing his footballing career.
That decision proved to have paid off for Simpson, who will now link up with the Barnsley FC Academy U23’s as he embarks on a new challenge in the Professional Development League under the guidance of Head Coach Martin Devaney.
Simpson was delighted to have signed a contract with Barnsley FC and said:
I’m really happy! I’ve been working hard all season in the hope that I would get a chance to come up here. I’ve been on trial for five or six weeks and I’m so pleased that I’ve been told that I can finally sign. I’m over the moon!”
It’s been a real learning curve for Simpson, who has showed a heap of progression during his time in the Shadow Scholarship programme and says it taught him a lot both on and off the pitch.
“It helped me stay full-time and that was one of the main things. I was playing non-league which was only three times a week, so I wasn’t really happy because I wanted to play every day.
“The Shadow Scholarship programme allowed me to come back and continue to play full-time. I spoke to Mark Tinker [Lead Development Coach] and he sold this idea to me which worked out well in the end. It’s been really good for me and I’ve really enjoyed it!”
Reds in the Community’s Head of Education Mark Crossfield was also full of praise for Simpson, who went above and beyond what was expected of him in order to achieve his goal.
“I’m delighted for him! He’s come into the programme and done so well. To have that opportunity to go and progress into the academy on a professional contract is absolutely brilliant!
“He’s a brilliant young person, who has a fantastic personality and an unbelievable work ethic. He’s always out there doing extra sessions, which is something he came in and did straight away when he entered the Shadow Scholarship programme and that shows just how incredibly hard-working he is.”