Latest off the Leeds United Academy production line to make an impression in the first team, Jamie Shackleton has come a long way in a short space of time.
The 18-year-old midfielder, now turned attacking full-back, has been given his chance in the first team at Elland Road after impressing new head coach Marcelo Bielsa in training and in the pre-season warm-up games.
And the Kippax youngster is fast becoming a first team regular with his senior debut, home debut and first starts in both the Carabao Cup and Sky Bet Championship ticked off.
The rise has been fast for a lad who first kicked a ball for the Kippax Athletic junior team with his appearances in the senior side earning him a new contract – a three-year deal to stay at Elland Road and develop his career further.
As a boyhood Leeds United fan it is a dream come true for Jamie and he is still pinching himself.
He said: “I’ve always been a Leeds fan, so to put on a Leeds shirt was one of the best feelings of my life.
“It’s a great feeling having signed another three years here. Obviously since I’ve been young that was the aim, a professional contract so to get another three years as a pro here, I’m really pleased with that.
“I wasn’t expecting it, not at all. I just kept my head down, kept working. If you do that, hopefully it’s going to come. That’s all you can do.
“Like I said this is the club I love so do that, get on the pitch for the first team and sign a new contract here, it means an awful lot to me, but really now it’s about the next one and the next game.
“That’s what you want really, more game time. Now I’ve had a sniff of it, I want more. So that’s the aim now.”
On his own background Shackleton explained: “I started off playing for Kippax Athletic, my local team.
“I got scouted by Leeds at six or seven, but carried on playing for Kippax up until nine and then I signed for the academy, under-nines.
“And from then on I played for all the academy teams up until the 23s.
“I’ve worked with a lot of different coaches that have all helped me along the way. Some really good coaches and a few setbacks at times.
“I’ve played an age group down before due to my size, but ultimately it’s all helped me and, yeah, the hard work has gone into getting where I am at the moment.
Shackleton was earmarked for potential greatness when aged just 16 by former Leeds first team and academy boss Neil Redfearn, but he played down the favourable comment:
“Well I was still playing 18s football, bit of 23s football at that time so it was still a way to go to playing first-team football I thought.
“It’s a good thing to hear from a first team coach and for him to have that belief in me and it’s good that he’s been right about it.”
On making his senior debut as a substitute at Derby County earlier this month, Shackleton said: “I felt more nervous getting to the ground and getting off the bus, rather than when I was told I was coming on.
“When I got told I was just like a bit of a ‘right, okay, we’re going on’ and then before I knew it, it was the end of the game, so I didn’t think about it too much.
“But it was more the pre-match stuff, that’s where I felt a bit of nerves. It helped that the team were 4-1 up. Even though it was a 20 minute period you want to do everything you can to catch the manager’s eye, catch everyone’s eye.
“You don’t want to go on and just have an average performance. You want to do everything you can to stand out in that time.”
The Kippax youngster is enjoying working with United’s new head coach Bielsa.
He added: “He’s a world class manager, one of the best in the world, so to know that he’s willing to bring someone as young as myself on, it’s encouraging.
“I really enjoy training with him and the staff I’ve worked with, his coaching staff, are all brilliant and really supportive, making pre-season for me really enjoyable.”