April 2023 Volume 19

'Whisper' Richards signs with Chelsea FC

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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KINGSTON College and Phoenix All-Stars Football Academy standout Dujuan "Whisper" Richards has signed a pre-contract with top English Premier League club Chelsea, in a massive move for the 17-year-old striker.

Phoenix patriarch and manager Craig Butler made the announcement on social media ahead of Richards' debut outing with the national senior football team against Trinidad and Tobago.

"History has been made. The Phoenix All-Stars Football Academy is proud to announce that Dujuan 'Whisper' Richards, who has been with us since he was 12 years old, has put pen to paper and signed his pre-contract with Chelsea FC in England and will be plying his trade in the Premier League," Butler posted via his Instagram account.

The announcement comes days after the Jamaica Observer reported that Richards — who had completed a trial with another Premier League outfit, Newcastle United, which is based in north-east England — had signed a contract with a London-based club, with the announcement expected to be made before the end of the week.

Meanwhile Butler — who also developed Aston Villa attacker Leon Bailey, taking him straight from Jamaica and into European football at Genk in Belgium and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany before his move to the Premier League — is looking forward to Richards' continued development.

"This has been a long road and one that has made us exceptionally proud of his loyalty and undying faith in me and our team at Phoenix — Kyle Butler, Kaycie Butler, Travis Blagrove and the village that helps us in his development. We're proud of the people of Jamaica who believed in Whisper, in Phoenix, and in our country's ability to produce, if only we are willing to work hard, smart, and are committed to excellence," Butler said.

"We are grateful to Chelsea Football Club and look forward to the continued relationship and partnership with our academy as we prepare Whisper for the Premier League. We thank all the clubs who have shown interest and took the time to look at our players, and we look to the future for more top talents from our academy gracing the pitches in Belgium, Holland, Germany, England and Spain," added Butler, who noted that the move also carried another significant personal value to him.

"Chelsea FC was my boyhood dream club and I'm so pleased to have one of my players built in the furnaces of the Phoenix at Stamford Bridge. There's much more from Phoenix to come, but we can assure you we will defend our players and fight for them with all our hearts and souls. Whisper, I can rest now. The task is now only beginning for you," Butler said. "This is history made and an accomplishment never seen before at this high a level of a club. From little Phoenix in Jamaica to the mighty Chelsea."

Richards came to the fore after a brilliant season in the last schoolboy football campaign, scoring 30 goals and providing 19 assists for Kingston College.

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