Ajani Burchall back home for Christmas
Ajani Burchall set foot on local soil for the first time upon his arrival from England yesterday since making an historic debut for Bournemouth.
Aged 16 years and 37 days, the promising winger became the youngest Bermudian to appear in the English Football League after coming on as a late substitute in his team’s 5-0 rout of Huddersfield Town in the Sky Bet Championship at Vitality Stadium on December 12.
Before then, Clyde Best had been the youngest Bermudian player to appear on the big stage in England, aged 18 years and 182 days when he made his debut for West Ham United in a 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal on August 25, 1969.
“I am quite excited to be the youngest because of course I’m making history and I want to make history,” Burchall, who was accompanied on the British Airways flight with his father, Shannon, told The Royal Gazette. “It’s also exciting because I am influencing the younger people around me [at Bournemouth Academy] and at the former club that I played for, North Village.”
Burchall also rewrote the history books at his club as he is the third-youngest Bournemouth player, behind only Jimmy White, who debuted in 1958, and striker Jayden Stockley.
“It’s quite exciting and everyone has congratulated me across the island,” he added.
“I would also like to thank North Village Community Club, Paget Primary and the Bermuda [Under-15] national team for developing the player that I am today.”
Burchall returned home a day after being an unused substitute in Bournemouth’s goalless draw away to Luton Town on Saturday.
“It was a bit of a late call,” Burchall said of his addition to Jason Tindall’s squad. “I was prepared to play for my under-18 team and then the night before I got a call that I will be travelling in the morning to meet the squad at the hotel.”
Making his club debut and being called to first-team duty twice inside of a week has done Burchall’s confidence the world of good.
“This has been a major boost to my confidence because I got on the pitch once and now I feel I can do it more,” he said.
Tindall, the Bournemouth manager, is impressed by the progress that Burchall is making at 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.”
Burchall is elated to be back home.
“It feels different being home because I haven’t been home in a long time,” he said. “Quite excited to see my family.
“I haven’t been here since last Christmas because last summer I had to do training with the under -18 team at Bournemouth, so I wasn’t allowed to come back.”
Meanwhile, Bournemouth find themselves ideally poised thick in the hunt for promotion to the top tier of the English football pecking order at the halfway stage of the season.
Tindall’s team are in second place in the Championship, five points behind Norwich City.