A young footballer has followed in the footsteps of Huddersfield Town hero Jordan Rhodes after signing for Blackburn Rovers.
Eight-year-old Isabella Lobley, known as Bella, has joined Rovers after rising through the ranks at the Battyeford Belles, and has joined up with the club’s under-9s.
Proud father John Lobley said Bella’s interest in football had snowballed since she took up the sport in June 2013.
“Bella only started playing last summer,” he added. “But she took to it quite quickly.
“All she has ever known is her watching her brother Jack play football for Hartshead, so it came quite naturally to her.”
After impressing for the Battyeford Belles, Bella got the chance to show off her skills on a bigger stage.
John explained: “She was invited to go to a trial day at Blackburn Rovers in the summer.
“She then trained every Wednesday, and they told her that they wanted her to play for them.”
Bella then signed a 12-month agreement with Blackburn Rovers Centre of Excellence after the trial, she now trains for two hours every Monday at Ewood Park. Should she be kept on for the under 11s, she could find herself playing youth league matches against the likes of Manchester City and Everton.
Bella is described as a box-to-box central midfielder in the mould of Jordan Henderson, and she hopes to go right to the top.
John added: “Bella and her classmates were asked at school what they wanted to do when they grew up, and she said ‘professional footballer’ – so she seems quite adamant about it!”
But, despite her deal with Blackburn, Bella’s footballing loyalties remain local. A season ticket holder at Huddersfield Town, Bella draws inspiration from her beloved Terriers, and names midfield schemer Sean Scannell as the player she looks up to most.
“It was strange the first time she saw him play,” added John. “She pointed him out and said ‘that girl’s a good player’ – I had to explain to her that it was a man!”