Vale’s record against Walsall is far from the best and so the 2-1 win in their final group game of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night was very welcome news.
The Vale collected a £10,000 prize money for the victory, topped their group with a 100% record and gained the opportunity for a home draw in the first round of the knockout stages of the competition. But the headlines were going elsewhere on this occasion, for all the right reasons.
Academy starlet Nelson Agho is still 3 months short of his 16th birthday and was very much a surprise inclusion in Neil Aspin’s squad for the short trip down the M6 for the clash with Walsall. But the 10 minute cameo that he managed at the end of the game put him firmly in the record books as the youngest ever player to appear for the first team, beating the previous holder, Malcolm Mackenzie, by more than 2 months.
Nelson is a strapping centre forward who has been with the Academy for nearly 4 years since he moved to England from Spain. He was spotted playing by the Vale Academy as an under-12 year old and despite interest from several other clubs decided to sign for the Vale.
Academy Manager Sevvy Aslam said: “We saw someone with the opportunity to really develop. He is big and strong and has progressed quicker than we could have imagined so we asked the Gaffer to have a look at him. “
“He trained with the first team during the recent half term week and Neil was impressed enough to give him a chance in the squad for the Walsall game.”
Nelson who lives locally and attends Burslem Coop Academy has been making regular appearances for the Academy Youth (under-18s) team. Numerous other clubs have been monitoring his progress including interest from clubs in the Premier League but for the moment he is committed to the Vale.
“Everyone in the Academy is delighted that Nelson has been given the chance to show his abilities with the first team.” added Sevvy.
“He’ll be proud to have made his debut and take the record, which has stood for over 50 years, but he’s a level-headed young lad so knows that he has to continue to work extremely hard if he wants to develop into a regular first team player.”
Given his tender age, time is certainly on his side but he’s certainly one for us all to watch out for.