New Sheffield United signing Ashton Hall says he’s “loving” his first few weeks at the club following his transfer from Derbyshire side Matlock Town.
The central defender, 18, has joined the Blades’ development sector after breaking into Matlock’s first team last season.
Hall was released by Sheffield United as a 15-year-old, but has rejoined the Premier League club despite spending time on trial with Yorkshire neighbours Leeds.
The life-long United supporter has already featured in friendly matches for the under-18 and under-23 sides this summer.
“I’m so honoured to sign for the team I have supported throughout my childhood, the hard work starts now and I’m ready for the challenge ahead,” he said.
“Many people have a dream to become a professional footballer and my dream was the same as anyone else's.”
Hall’s new teammates have helped him settle down in South Yorkshire as he prepares to embark on his debut campaign with the under-23s - a step up from the Evo Stik Northern Premier League.
He said: “I’ve had to take it on the chin really, because the step up is big and the intensity’s higher; you have to be professional on and off the pitch.
“I knew some of the boys anyway from my last spell with the club. Some of them are still here now and they helped me settle in. I know Zak (Brunt) from Matlock, he came to Sheffield so he helped me too.”
Hall becomes the third Matlock player to sign a professional contract with a club at Championship level and above, and is the first to have directly signed for a Premier League team.
He follows in the footsteps of Max Hunt, who joined Derby County in January 2018, and Blades youngster Brunt. The presence of former Gladiators highlights the importance of his former club as he looks to develop at Bramall Lane.
“I’ve seen my teammates in Max and Zak both make the step into the professional game after being mentored by Justin Tellus (Matlock Town’s former development manager) and I feel I have the foundations installed in my game now to develop as well as achieve at this great club.
“I’ve had an amazing journey over the last two years as I’ve been guided and developed by Justin who took me in over two years ago and he has turned me into the player I am today.
“We played out from the back, it was good football and we were always told to keep the ball and play well. That’s the proper way to play football, and that’s really helped me to come into a club like this,” he said.
Tellus, who mentored the talent of Hall, was filled with absolute pride to see the 18-year-old sign for the Blades.
“Ashton has been a true professional as well as a shining example to all throughout his development years,” he said.
“His hard work and dedication, as well as commitment, has got him to achieve his dream of signing for his boyhood side in Sheffield United.
“I wish my him all the best in his career in the professional game. Myself and all the people that supported Ashton will always be so very proud of him.”
Hall had spent his younger years with professional clubs and was released by the Blades and Rotherham United before the age of 16, which Tellus felt should act as an encouragement to others.
He added: “Ashton Hall is a product of what I stand for and work for, I hope he is an inspiration to all young players to keep working hard, as the second chance is always achievable in this great game that we all love so much.”