Portadown Youth’s Barney McKeown had a birthday weekend to remember by signing a two-year scholarship contract with Everton.
McKeown celebrated turning 16 by putting pen to paper on the deal at the English Premier League giants.
“Barney is one of the best players I’ve ever coached,” said Noel Cowan from Portadown Youth. “He has a great attitude and shows real aptitude in everything he does, the past four years have been a pleasure.
“He’s a real credit to his family and I’m delighted they all are now getting a reward following sacrifices driving all over the country.
“I really think Barney has the mental strength to go far in his football career.”
McKeown joined Portadown Youth from hometown club Camlough Rovers as a 12-year-old.
“He spent his foundation years at Camlough and got a real football education,” said Cowan. “He started to attract attention a short time after joining Portadown Youth and went on a number of cross-channel trips.
“Everton were the first club he spent time at and they remained impressed by his ability.
“We went on to go back and forward over three years, including European trips with the Academy.
“He is one of only 14 players offered a scholarship by Everton.
“Everyone at Portadown Youth would like to wish Barney every success.”
Alberto Balde, also from Portadown Youth, signed a deal last season with Middlebrough.