Holding onto your best young talents can be difficult for many clubs, with there always being potential suitors lurking in anticipation for making a move when the earliest opportunity arises.
The more prolific the lower league academy, the more likely they are to see homegrown products of the system depart and that has certainly been a case with Sunderland over the past few years.
Players such as Josh Maja, George Honeyman and Bali Mumba have all departed from the Stadium of Light in search of bigger and better challenges, with those moves inevitably causing some murmurs of discontent amongst the club’s fanbase.
Academy graduates provide that important link for supporters between themselves and the team, with the chance to see ‘one of their own’ pull on the club’s shirt and wear the badge with pride being something which connects said player with the people in the stands who have grown up in the same area of the country as the man they support.
The latest man to take on this role in the current Black Cats’ squad is young winger Jack Diamond, a real prospect that has excelled this term under Lee Johnson since being brought into the first team set up at the beginning of the campaign.
Blessed with exceptional dribbling ability and a will to take on defenders in one on one situations, the 21-year-old is a player who is bound to get the fans out of their seats once they are permitted to return to the stadium.
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“I’ve been here since I was 14.
“So to be offered the chance to play for Sunderland – when they are on the up – is a fantastic opportunity for me.
“I’ve broken into the first team this season under the new head coach [Lee Johnson] and I’m pleased to be rewarded with a new contract, but my goal stays the same and that’s to play at the highest level I possibly can with this club.”
And it is no shock that his fine form has been rewarded, with this new contract not only bringing the player increased financial gain from a personal perspective but also future rewards for the club as they have now managed to secure the youngster’s transfer value in anticipation of selling the winger for profit further down the line.
With a Papa John’s Trophy winners medal in his cabinet already and a new contract signed, sealed and delivered, the future looks bright for Diamond who will continue to entertain the fans in the North East for the time being, with a lucrative move away from the club sure to be in his sights further down the line if he maintains his current vein of form.
Sunderland have their new diamond in the rough and will be hoping that he shines brightly at the Stadium of Light for a few more years yet.