PROUD father Mark Redknapp believes son Harry is in the best possible hands with Cherries and admitted: “I wouldn’t have wanted him to go anywhere else.”
The seven-year-old grandson of former Cherries boss Harry Redknapp yesterday continued the family dynasty when he joined the Dorset club’s Academy.
Striker Harry, who attends Bournemouth Collegiate School, has followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, his father and his uncle Jamie Redknapp by being on the club’s books.
The youngster was named after both his granddad and his late great-grandfather – who died just before Harry junior was born – and was spotted by Cherries scouts playing locally for Moordown Youth.
“I don’t want a load of agents phoning me because he is only just out of nappies!” joked dad Mark, who runs a media company in London and has just opened the Burger Shop on Old Christchurch Road.
“He is very direct and quick but has a lot to learn. It is still early days so I don’t want him to get carried away with it and I want him to stay grounded. He eats, sleeps and breathes football and is playing all the time.”
Although Mark was in the Cherries youth ranks during his father’s time as manager at Dean Court, a serious injury ended his chances of playing professionally at 18 before he turned out for non-league clubs Bashley, Dorchester and Fisher Athletic.
Harry junior, who turns eight next month, will learn under the guidance of Cherries’ technical development officer Matty Holmes – handed his first pro contract by Redknapp senior in 1988 – and will play for Cherries under-nines next season.
“I have known Matty Holmes for more than 20 years and he is a fantastic coach,” added Mark. “My son could not be in better hands. My dad, my brother and myself were all on the club’s books and I would not have wanted him to go anywhere else.
“He supports Cherries and QPR and his pop comes to watch him on Sundays as often as he can. My dad thinks he has improved a lot this year but we both know he has a long way to go.”
Holmes told the club website: “Harry was playing locally for Moordown so we had an eye on him. A few scout reports came back saying he was progressing very, very well, so we brought him into our Academy sessions around November last year.
“He has been playing with the top under-eights and has shown really good progression. He has improved his technical work and his receiving and passing skills have come on no end.
“So, with that in mind, and the fact that he comes from a footballing family background, we feel he has a great chance of progressing in our system and that is why we have offered him a contract.”
Mack Allen, the grandson of the late Alan Ball, who won the World Cup with England in 1966, is also on Cherries’ books as a goalkeeper.
“It is funny how it works,” added Holmes. “You get two or three relatives of famous footballers come in at the same time. They are always signed purely on what we see though.
“We won’t just sign them unless we see an actual talent there, otherwise it is a place that is taken up when another boy could be developing. They have to earn it and Harry and Mack have certainly done that.”