SACRIFICES have paid off for footballing ace Harlow-Lillie Allen who has been offered a contract with Manchester United - aged nine.

Over the years, Harlow, who was diagnosed with severe anaemia at three-years-old and still takes medication, has missed birthday parties and sleepovers to achieve her goal of playing for the club.

Her efforts have paid off and Harlow has been selected for the Manchester United FA Girls’ Regional Talent Club for the forthcoming 2020/2021 season.

Players who are selected for the FA Girls’ Regional Talent Club receive ‘intensive’ training and support, along with the chance to compete against other clubs from across the North West.

Stacey, Harlow’s mum, said her daughter is the only girl to have been offered a contract in North Wales.

Rhyl Journal:

Harlow in her Wales Kit

Speaking to The Free Press, Stacey, who lives in Denbigh, said: “The head of United said Harlow was an ‘easy decision’.

“When the email arrived [about the outcome of the selection ], I felt extremely nervous. I knew it could be one of three things - a training contract, that she would have to have her re-trial in September or a full contract to Manchester United.

“Harlow was doing her school work at the time when the email was sent over.

“She was extremely shocked and very proud of herself, as were we.

“I called the football development officer to confirm what Harlow had been offered and she said there were 22 girls in the group.

“Harlow was one of five to be offered a full contract, five others on a training contract.”

Rhyl Journal:

The tackle during the game Harlow was selected for Manchester United in the trials

Harlow, who attends Ysgol Y Faenol in Bodelwyddan, was selected for the amazing opportunity after impressing at football trials.

The youngster starting playing football about two and a half years ago after watching her brother Joseph, aged seven, have a kick about in Prestatyn under Mark Pierce.

Stacey, 37, who is married to Mike, 39, said: “She then went to Bodelwyddan football club for games with James Sweetman, manager at the time.

“She was asked to join a boys team in at Pentre Football Club, Abergele, playing one year up in her age. Her manager is Nigel Warren.

“In that time she broke her foot and had to have three months off and last year in January, she was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever.

“This meant it put her football back for another four-months.

Rhyl Journal:

Harlow and her brother Joe

“She is currently still with Pentre playing a main part as a Midfield player where the boys in the team are great with her.

“She has won awards from Pentre for most improved player and she is very well liked by boys from other teams.

“She works extremely hard and has a great attitude towards the games."

Harlow has also played with North Wales Coast Girls in Llandudno Junction, from which she was then put forward for trials for Welsh Regionals.

Playing for Wales Regionals, she played against Manchester United U10 girls in August 2019 where she was scouted and offered her a three-week trial at United.

“Fast forward to May 1, she was offered her contract and signed for the club,” Stacey said.

“She has missed birthday party’s, sleepovers and made a lot of sacrifices playing football and now she has achieved the main goal - which is to play for a fantastic club where she will travel and learn new experiences.”

The football talent runs in the family; brother Joseph, who is currently U7 going into U8 also plays for Manchester United at Carrington training ground and matches Sunday mornings.

The family, who travel to Manchester four times a week for training and match days, find out about his contract in October.

Stacey added: "Joe and Harlow always encourage and support each other, whether it be at training matches or presentation evenings. They support each other in the back garden where they will show each other how to do different things."

Talking about travelling to Manchester, Stacey said: "Harlow's training is about 15 minutes away in Eccles.

"Sometimes the driving can be hard with school work etc but they are committed," she said.

"Seeing them do well and work hard makes the drive easy each time.

"We’ve been driving to Manchester since September 2018 but for Harlow, since last year. It’s great they both train on the same nights though.

"Harlow's matches will be played Saturday mornings for United and Joe's matches, on a Sunday morning."

With the ongoing pandemic, signing day in Old Trafford - where Harlow will sign the official paperwork and have professional photos with her team mates and coaches - has been postponed. It is likely this will take place in September.

Stacey added: “My parents support Liverpool so there has always been a lot of banter in the house as we are avid United supporters.

“Harlow’s goal was Manchester United. We knew she could do it.”