Ajani Burchall laps up history-making Bournemouth debut
Ajani Burchall is determined to build on his first taste of professional football after rewriting the history books in making his Bournemouth debut on Saturday.
Burchall, who only turned 16 on November 5, came on in the closing stages of Bournemouth’s convincing 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town in the Sky Bet Championship and in doing so became the club’s third-youngest player, behind only Jimmy White, who debuted in 1958, and striker Jayden Stockley.
The former Bermuda Under-15 forward, who only last year was offered a pre-scholarship agreement to join the club’s academy, spoke of his delight at not only making his transition into the first-team set-up but also the shock opportunity to enter the fray at the Vitality Stadium.
“I was delighted to make my first professional league debut at 16, it was really pleasing,” Burchall told to the club’s website, while also admitted he missed the phone call from manager Jason Tindall a day previously to inform him he was part of the matchday squad.
“I only found out I was in the squad after school yesterday. I was in the barbershop; my phone was ringing and I wasn’t able to answer it. When I got in the car, my dad was on the phone with Jason, and he told me the news.
“He said I’ve been doing very well recently and he would like me to be on the bench for the game.
“Being around the professional environment was all a bit new to me because I’ve only been used to being around the academy boys and I never thought it was going to happen.
“When I got the call to warm up, I was buzzing. I went to warm up really quickly and I was ready to come on.
“I thought I did well, to be honest. It was a little bit difficult at times because some of the players are a bit bigger than me and so it was hard for me to get about them because I’m a bit smaller.
“It was great to have the fans the back in the stadium and a great experience for me as well because I’ve never played at the stadium in front of the fans.”
Looking ahead, Burchall is determined to do all he can to warrant further opportunities in the first team as he aims to be an inspiration to the club’s fellow young players to follow in his footsteps in making the transition from the academy.
“My next step is to keep performing in training and look forward to getting on the bench more; hopefully I keep getting picked,” he added. “It’s great for me but it’s also great for any of the younger players here because they can look up at me as well.”
Meanwhile, Tindall revealed he had been keeping tabs on the Bermudian teenager for a while, citing his shock debut as a reward not only for Burchall but for the club’s academy.
“Ajani is someone that we think very highly of within the academy,” he said. “He’s been doing really well when he’s been playing for the youth team and he’s stepped up.
“I think when you’ve got a young player within your academy who is doing well and progressing, you want to reward them for their good performances and give them that opportunity.
“It was great that I was able to do that today with Ajani, and it was great for me to be able to put him on. I just think it goes to show what great work the academy is doing behind the scenes.
“It’s only a good thing for the football club when you see the amount of young players that we are blooding into the first team and them being involved can only be a positive thing moving forward.”
Burchall could be back in action as early as tomorrow when second-placed Bournemouth, who are three points adrift of leaders Norwich City, host Wycombe Wanderers.