Ben Wilmot 'forever grateful' to Stevenage after Premier League Watford snap up England U19 starlet
PUBLISHED: 13:36 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:36 25 May 2018
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Ben Wilmot is ‘forever grateful’ to Stevenage after being sold to Premier League outfit Watford for a club record fee.
The young defender rose through the ranks at the club, after joining the Academy aged 14, and made 15 first-team appearances last season, while also leading the under-18s to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.
The cultured centre-back made his debut for England U19’s in Macedonia against Latvia in March and has rapidly earned a reputation for being a technically excellent footballer who can play the ball out from back.
The North Herts club have earned a reputation for developing talented young players and will look to bolster Dino Maamria’s squad with the cash with a view to a promotion push from the Lamex outfit next season.
Wilmot, who also picked up the LFE League Two apprentice of the year award, has signed a five-year contract at Vicarage Road.
He tweeted a short while after the news has been announced: “As a new chapter starts at Watford huge thanks to Stevenage for their belief in me.
“The academy, first team management, staff and [my] team mates have been brilliant.
“[A] big thank you to the fans for the unbelievable support in every game, [I’m] forever grateful. Good luck next season.”
The record transfer fee is undisclosed but could rise further depending on future appearances and club chairman Phil Wallace hailed the move for Wilmot.
He told the club website: “We are all absolutely delighted for Ben and are full of confidence that he will thrive in Premier League surroundings.
“We wish him all the best and would like to thank him, his family, his agent and Watford for their co-operation during this process.
“We have always known he was a Premier League talent and it is no surprise that our recent emphasis on player development would resulte in news like this.
“Watford are getting an outstanding young man and footballer. The pathway from our academy to first team has never been clearer which obviously bodes well for the future.
“A record sale is huge news for the club and financially, extremely useful. We will ensure the funds are used sensibly and in the best interests of Stevenage FC.”
As Wilmot prepares for life as a Premier League player his excitement was palpable after he also tweeted: “[I’m] really buzzing and immensely proud to have signed for Watford.
“It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Massive thanks to everyone who has made this happen. The hard work doesn’t stop and can’t wait for pre-season and cracking on.”
* Work on the new North Stand at Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium has started again ahead of the summer months.
Following the club’s mini-bond campaign. £600,000 was raised in the summer of 2017 as supporters bought into Boro’s vision of the future of football in Stevenage.
The sub-structure and foundations are currently being laid and is due to be completed by mid-June.
The steel and cladding will then be going up shortly after, with the North Stand expected to be ready for use by November.