A former Hucknall Sports youth footballer made an impressive full professional debut for Nottingham Forest on Saturday — watched by his proud family.
Joe Worrall, 19, a 6ft 3ins tall central defender, put in an encouraging performance in the Championship match after his surprise call-up.
Sadly for Joe and his watching family — parents Adrian and Louise, and brother, Josh, who are all Reds fans — Forest lost 2-0 at Reading, but the teenager won praise from commentators and fans.
After the game Joe, who joined the Forest academy as a 14-year-old after three years of winning trophies with Hucknall Sports, tweeted: “Mixed emotions today. Putting on that red shirt was one of the best moments of my life! Goosebumps.”
His dad, Adrian, of Linby, said: “I think I was more nervous than Joe, but he did well. He is an old-fashioned type of centre half. He is strong, good in the air and keeps it simple.
“He was pleased he made a decent showing on his first appearance, but disappointed with the result.”
Adrian said his son was now determined to continue to push for a first-team place, but wouldn’t get carried away by his debut.
“I just hope he continues to enjoy his football and progress,” said Adrian.
“Joe is very focused and committed. He lives the right way and his one mission has always been to play football.
“He is level-headed and has a good temperament. On and off the pitch, his attitude is A1.
“But he knows he hasn’t done anything yet. It is just one match — but it is nice for the local area to see a local boy coming through.”
Joe started playing football for Kimberley Miners’ Welfare when he was eight and nine.
When the family moved to Watnall he joined Priory Celtic and then went to Hucknall Sports when the family moved to Hucknall.
Adrian said: “We resisted the temptation to let him join an academy at a professional club too early because he wanted to play local football with his friends and to enjoy his childhood, which he did.”
Joe joined the Forest academy under Steve Chettle when he was 14. He signed a scholarship at 16 and then had a pro contract, which was extended by (then manager) Dougie Freedman.
That led to a 15-match loan the start of 2016 at Dagenham and Redbridge in League Two, including an FA Cup tie against Everton.
Adrian said: “We have a lot to thank them for. The manager, John Still, played Joe for 90 minutes in every match.
“It set him up for competitive football and was a good grounding.”
The family thanked Steve Chettle, academy manager Gary Brazil, under-23s manager Jack Lester and first-team manager Philippe Montanier for their support.
And there could be another Worrall from Hucknall Sports making his way in football over the next few years. Joe’s 15-year-old brother, Josh, won an award at the club last season and is also a 6ft tall defender.
A spokesman for Hucknall Sports YCFC said it was proud.
“Joe was a natural footballer whose talents were recognised early on and was a member of one our most successful squads under Martin Whitley, winning the Nottinghamshire County Shield at under-12s in 2009 for the first time,” he said.
“Joe has worked relentlessly hard to get to this position and as well being an excellent footballer, he is a very honest and well-grounded young man.”
“Joe is always willing to pop into the club and get involved in various activities. It is fantastic that he still retains his close association with Hucknall Sports YCFC.”