James Macleod is playing fantasy football – for real.
A teenager, barely out of school and who this time last year was pulling on the gloves for Back FC in the local Lewis and Harris league is dreaming of turning out in the Scottish Premiership with Ross County.
His stunning form in-between the sticks for both Back and the Lewis and Harris Select, with whom he won the Midsummer Tournament at Airdrie United’s Excelsior Stadium, did not go unnoticed.
Initial interest from Brora Rangers led to an opening with Ross County and neither party has looked back since.
And James, who is still only 17, is preparing to move across the Minch full-time and start pre-season training with the Dingwall club.
“I leave at the end of the month in time for pre-season training on July 2. I will be working with the first-team keepers and every other day with the under-20s so it is a huge chance for me as County don’t have a lot of goalkeepers on their books and they gave a young goalie a chance last year in Sean McCarthy,” he beamed.
James had been training with County for a year and playing as part of the U17 squad but he had no idea if he was to be kept on. Infact James and his dad Kenny were driving home on the road to Ullapool to meet the ferry home when the call came from Ross County supremo George Adams himself that there was a deal for James waiting on the table.
“It was a pretty intense call and one I was thrilled to receive. I felt great after speaking to Mr Adams and I can’t wait to get started,” continued James.
“I wasn’t sure at all if I would be offered a deal or not. I really was 50/50 but now at least I know and I can continue to work hard.”
Despite just leaving school this week James is completely focused on making the most of the opportunity which he has earned and he is training and watching his diet already before pre-season has even begun.
“I have a pre-season schedule and it is pretty heavy going to be honest but I’m looking forward to it.
“It is a huge step up for me. County have asked me to keep on top of my fitness so I’m not behind when pre-season starts and I have a new dietary plan now too which I’m working with.
“There is a great chance for me now and I’m very excited and it’s going to be great and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make the most of it.
“I would like to thank Ross Tokely, Jim Kelly and everyone at Back FC for all their help.”