Ricky-Jade Jones: Peterborough United prospect goes from ballboy to goalscorer

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Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Ricky-Jade Jones scored in Peterborough's 4-2 FA Cup third round defeat at Burnley

"To think, a few months on, I'm now playing in the games I used to be ballboy in is the craziest thing."

In May, Ricky-Jade Jones was a relatively little-known Peterborough United youth team striker, who filled the role of ballboy in their win over Burton on the final day of last season.

Six months later he made his first league start against the same opposition, having already scored for the first team in the FA Cup and EFL Trophy.

Jones, now 17, was already raising eyebrows before scoring against Premier League Burnley on Saturday - now the most high-profile moment of his meteoric rise.

"Lively, energetic, run in behind, bubbly - that's me," he told BBC Look East, when asked to describe himself as a player.

"I've always dreamed of playing for Peterborough United and now that I've actually done it, and playing games, sitting on the bench - I'm loving it."

Approaching Christmas, Posh were the highest scorers in England's top three divisions - with forwards Ivan Toney, Marcus Maddison and Mo Eisa outscoring almost every other club alone.

But more recently Jones has come to the fore, with his four goals in 11 appearances attracting scouts from top English and German sides to watch him.

"Obviously I can move onto bigger clubs when I'm a bit older, but I'm still young and still developing," he said.

"I look at [Marcus] Rashford because he got his chance similarly to me, because there was an injury. Now seeing him play for England I think he's got a good mentality and I'd like to be like him."

'A Premier League player in waiting'

Video caption FA Cup: Burnley 4-2 Peterborough United highlights

Peterborough fan Jones joined the club aged nine, with uncle Liam Bowes acting as his agent.

The family link ensures the teenager's best interests are at heart, with no rush to push for a big transfer move.

"Barry Fry [director of football], Darren Ferguson [manager] - they've been fantastic - the fact Ricky's been here so long is fantastic but I think massive credit has to go to the club for how they've managed him," Bowes said.

"He's got all the tools to be a Premier League player and I think he'll represent England, that's what I believe he can do."

The League One club's academy manager Kieran Scarff is similarly optimistic about Jones' future, pointing towards one attribute in particular.

"He's the quickest player I've seen, and I've seen some quick players," said Scarff.

"With the work that continues to go into him he's only going to get better and his potential is enormous."