Having left Premier League-bound Burnley in the summer, defender Alex Coleman is enjoying his football with Colne in the North West Counties Premier Division.
The 20-year-old former youth team captain and Under 18 Player of the Year had been on Burnley’s books since the age of seven in various guises and had earned professional status for the previous two seasons.
However, he was released after Sean Dyche’s side finished runners up in the Championship.
Coleman said: “I was captain of the youth team, we were in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup and then, bang, I wasn’t going to be needed for the new season. It’s a bit gutting - especially having played there since I was seven years old. Burnley has been my life. But it’s just one of those things and that’s the ruthless world that football is.
“It definitely wasn’t easy leaving. I’ve been there since I was seven and I know every person from the lower end of the club to the first team manager. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I’ve no hard feeling towards Burnley at all because I really enjoyed my time.”
The decision of Dyche alongside first team coach Tony Loughlan and head of recruitment and analytics Lee Darnbrough was made just after the club’s youngsters lost 3-2 to Patrick Viera’s Manchester City Elite Development Squad in the Barclays Under 21 Premier League Cup semi-final in April.
Coleman said: “It can’t be easy for them to do because you’re almost crushing a young lad’s dream. They handled it very well. I’ve got a lot of respect for the job they have to do. But it’s not the end of the world - you’ve just got to get on with it.
“There’s things I’m really proud of. Captaining the reserves, captaining the youth team in the semi-finals, going on tour with the first team, playing in the friendlies. Not many people can say that.
“It was difficult to swallow when they said ‘no’. It took a good few days for me to get my head around the fact that I wouldn’t be returning. I’ve been coming back every July for the last 13 years of my life. I’ve spent more than half my life at the club.”
Coleman dropped to the ninth tier of English football when welcoming Reds boss Steve Cunningham’s invitation to join him at the XLCR Stadium. He’s since helped the club to nine clean sheets in all competitions as they sit seventh.
With Congleton Town up next tomorrow - after Saturday’s gamet at 1874 Northwich was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Coleman said: “I’m playing football again and enjoying myself. That’s why I went to Colne, because I’ve got a few good mates who play there who’ve been at Burnley previously.
“My life is different now. I’m very much enjoying playing for Colne. It’s a fantastic family club, with great players, a great manager and excellent support.”