Danny Newton’s move to Stevenage means he is the first graduate of Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy to earn a professional deal.
Leicester factory worker Newton, 26, was out of contract after a season in which he juggled his day-job with part-time football and scored 34 goals for Tamworth in the Conference North.
Dubbed ‘the wasp’ for his relentless style of play which means defenders do not have a moment’s rest, Newton has already been compared to Vardy – by the Foxes striker himself.
“When John [Morris, Vardy’ agent and V9 Academy co-founder] told me that Danny had received an offer from Stevenage I was buzzing,” said Vardy, whose rags-to-riches story saw him playing in the seventh tier of English football just seven years ago and combining his football with work in a carbon fibre factory.
“He was one of the first players that we recruited to the academy and he seems to have had a similar journey to myself.”
Five other players from the V9 academy have been invited to participate in pre-season with professional clubs , which one player described as a “football paradise week”.
The players lived and trained at Manchester City Football Academy’s first-team campus, working with professional coaches including Chris Ramsey, Alan Stubbs and Robbie Stockdale, before playing three friendly matches against external opposition on June 9 in front of more than 60 professional scouts.
“The academy has proved that there are league players within the non-leagues,” added Morris. “Danny is a great example that it is never too late to fulfil your dream of being a professional footballer.”
The V9 academy was filmed as a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary for TV that will be aired next season and follows the academy hopefuls through their journey from non-league to the Etihad campus and beyond.