Grimsby Town Football Club can confirm that terms have been agreed for Academy defender Ben Grist to join Premier League side, Leicester City.
The youngster becomes the latest Mariners developed player to depart for the Premier League, joining Mattie Pollock who made his move to Watford earlier in the summer. Grist had been subject to significant speculation since making the bench for the Mariners as a 15-year-old in our 2-2 draw in the EFL Trophy against Harrogate Town, opting to sign for the 2015/16 Premier League champions.
Youth Team manager Neil Woods spoke to gtfc.co.uk to express his delight for the youngster and his move to football’s top tier.
“I’m absolutely delighted for Ben. It’s a fantastic move for him and his family, one that he thoroughly deserves and has earned. He has been with us since the age of nine, all the way through it and the support his family have given has been a credit to them.
“Ben has listened, he has worked hard, he has followed what we asked him to do and he has got an exceptional talent which has been recognised by a Premier League football club. We wish him well and I am sure that he will approach it in the same way that he will.
“I think he has made the right choice because it is the choice that he wanted to make. He had a couple of very big Premier League clubs speaking to him, I know he took his time and rightly so because it was a big decision. I mean there are worse things to have to make a decision on in life I think, but I think he went to the one where he felt wanted him the most. The one that showed more interest in him rather than just showing a position.
“The only advice I gave him when the situation arose was that the player always knows. I have been in this position a number of times and also with a member of my family and you go in somewhere and you get a feel for it. As a club, we always try to produce that feeling when they come in and feel they’re a part of something and I think he went to Leicester and felt that. I know a lot of people at Leicester who will look after him and Ben knows he has a long way to go, but what a fantastic start for his footballing career.
“First and foremost he is a very level headed lad. He dealt with the positive side of the game as well as the adversity. He is a composed footballer, he studies the game, he reads the game well, he had to work a couple of years on the defending part of the game but when you point things out to him, he does them.
“He knows that he will not turn things around straight away, he played as an Under 16 straight away in the Under 18s in a good, strong side which shows his progression. He wasn’t picked just because we had an injury, he was picked because he deserved to be picked. He had a time where he was injured and had to sit out but his demeanour never changed, he understood he had to take the time to recover, be patient and bide his time. He has a very calm head on his shoulders and has a great footballing brain and I wish him the absolute best for his career.”
Grist also spoke to gtfc.co.uk following his move to Leicester and was full of praise for the coaching received throughout his period at the club.
“I have loved every minute of representing Grimsby Town, from under 9s all the way through to the under 18s. It was a fantastic experience to be part of the 1st team squad for one game last season.
I will always be grateful to Neil Woods and the other Academy coaches for their help and support and for giving me the opportunity to develop as a player. I will miss everyone at GTFC but will be back to Blundell Park as often as I can to support the team. Grimsby will always be the first result I look out for on a Saturday afternoon”.
We would like to wish Ben every success in his career and thank him for his efforts in the Mariners’ Academy system.