Rotherham United are delighted to confirm that second year scholars Nathaniel Ford and Joel Holvey have both signed their first professional contracts with the club, subject to EFL and FA ratification.
Both players have put pen-to-paper on a one-year deal, with the Millers holding the right to extend the contracts by a further year.
The duo have been in fine form for the U18s side and have been rewarded with professional terms after impressing First Team Manager Matt Taylor and the rest of the coaching staff at Roundwood.
Goalkeeper Ford has caught the eye with a string of excellent displays between the sticks for the Academy, including a penalty save in their Youth Alliance Cup semi-final clash with Mansfield Town.
The Rotherham-born operator has been working closely with Goalkeeping Coach Scott Brown with the senior ‘keepers at our training base and will join the senior ranks in the upcoming 2023/24 campaign.
Tricky attacker Joel Holvey signed scholarship terms with the Millers after joining from Middlesbrough and has been a star performer for the U18s, also playing an instrumental role in this season’s success.
With Hamish Douglas graduating from the U18s to the professional ranks earlier in the campaign, it has been another bumper year for the Academy, with three players awarded professional contracts for the second successive season and manager Taylor is looking forward to welcoming them to the First Team setup next season.
“Nat especially has spent a lot of time with the goalkeeping department, as a training goalkeeper primarily but his performances for the U18s have been excellent,” he told The New York Way.
“He’s quite mature and is a good size, so he’ll add to our already strong goalkeeping department and he certainly deserves the opportunity.
“Joel’s season has been blighted a little through injuries, but he’s an extremely talented player. I’d say he’s a touch different to some of the other lads who have come through.
“He can really handle the ball, play off both feet and he’s an excellent technician. He’s got a little bit of growing to do, but we’ll give him that time to develop.
“Every time he goes into work he’ll know he’s playing alongside some good players and people as well.
“We’ll invest in those two players like we do with all we have here at this football club and we’re looking forward to working with them.”
Head of Academy Richard Hairyes expressed his delight at seeing another two graduates rewarded with professional contracts and heaped praise on the staff up at Roundwood for helping to develop a clear pathway into the first team.
“It is fantastic news for the football club, we’re in a position now where you can see a real production line of talent coming through and a pathways to the first team too."
“I’ve known Nat a long time, he impressed the coaching staff very early on and has since spent a lot of time up there. Scott has been doing some fantastic work with him, they really like him and he’s conducted himself very well in training. It’s just reward for all his hard work.
“I remember when we first came across Joel, we had a good contact at Middlesbrough who recommended him to us and he played in a trial game. We managed to get him ahead of everyone else – there were more scouts at that game than I’d ever seen – and in his first year he was excellent and did well for the first team in pre-season.
“He’s had a few injuries this year, but when he has played, he’s been excellent and reminds you of a player who has experience playing in a category one academy. Thankfully, the first team have been able to see enough of him to give him this opportunity and we’re really excited to see how he gets on because he’s a special talent.”
“The first team staff are really interested in the Academy setup and they put their money where their mouth is, too.
“They give all these young lads a chance. We’ve had first years play in Reserve games and they’ve all been really encouraged to see lads getting a chance with the first team. They can see that there is a clear pathways, which is really exciting for them and gives them a great incentive for the next 12 months.”