JACK Shepherd has quit his job as a kitchen-fitter to join Barnsley full-time after stepping up five divisions.
The 21-year-old defender signed from eighth-tier Pontefract after spells at Athersley Rec and Penistone Church, twice.
The Reds’ only previous signing of the summer was another centre-back from non-league in Kacper Lopata, with a deal for the free agent having been agreed well before the end of last season.
Shepherd told the Chronicle: “I am happy.
“I was playing well at Pontefract, I guess a couple of scouts went to watch.
“They asked me to come in on trial at the end of last season then asked me to sign.
“I am excited about the opportunity and hopefully I can go onto more.”
Shepherd will now turn professional and move up from the eighth tier of English football to the third.
“I feel like I have done well at the levels I have been at.
“This is a step up – a different type of fitness and everything else.
“It’s a big step, going full-time and training every day instead of twice a week.
“You just have to take your chance when you get it.”
Asked to describe himself as a player, Jack said: “Coming from non-league you have to have a physical presence.
“Not nasty but physical.
“I give everything every game and hopefully the rest comes with it.”
Barnsley have signed centre-backs from non-league in the past such as Marc Roberts, Ethan Pinnock and Angus MacDonald – all of whom have been successful signings, but were from higher levels than Pontefract.
“Barnsley have good players at the club. One has just moved on (Mads Andersen).
“They are good at bringing young centre-backs through.”