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First team

'I left United with the aim of climbing back up the ladder and I’ve managed to do that'

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth’s promotion may have given Ben Pearson another opportunity to tread the boards at the Theatre of Dreams.

Young player of the year at Old Trafford in 2012/13, Pearson had the footballing world at his feet as he progressed through the ranks at Manchester United.

A Red Devils fan as a kid, he captained England under-18s and joined in the celebrations as Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were crowned Premier League champions in the same season.

However, despite his rich promise, the Oldham-born midfielder was unable to break through and took the decision to finally sever ties with his boyhood club after 12 years.

Having had two fruitful loan spells with Barnsley and winning promotion to the Championship in 2015/16, Pearson completed a permanent move to Preston in January 2016.

When the Cherries came calling five years later, Pearson had no hesitation in swapping Lancashire for Dorset, another shrewd move by the 27-year-old.

“Promotion to the Premier League is an unbelievable achievement,” said Pearson, speaking to afcb.co.uk.

“It’s every lad’s dream and that’s the reason I moved clubs 18 months ago so it’s all been worthwhile.

“I wanted to move to a club that I felt had the ambition to get promoted. Now that’s happened, it’s justified and I can be happy with my decision.

“The management have been fantastic and the players have been brilliant. It’s thoroughly deserved. Everyone has played their part and it’s a joy to play in this team.

“I’ve enjoyed being a part of it. When I’ve played, I think I’ve done well. Lew Cook played in that position and has been unbelievable. You’ve just got to watch and admire when someone is playing football like that.

“The team has been up and down but we didn’t have a consistently bad run which was pleasing. I’ve been happy with my contribution and all the lads have been brilliant.”

Discussing his decision to leave Manchester United and pursue his Premier League dream elsewhere, Pearson said: “It’s a model for any young footballer who may be struggling to play at a Premier League club – just go out, play football and enjoy yourself.

“I’ve always said you probably end up when you belong to end up. I admire players who go and play rather than just sit there and settle for second best.

“When I left United, it probably felt normal at the time, given the fact I’d been on loan for about 18 months. I wasn’t really at the football club when I left.

“It felt like the right decision even though I still had a year left on my contract. I could have stayed but thought it was right for my career at the time.

“I left United nearly seven years ago with the aim of climbing back up the ladder and I’ve managed to do that.”

Despite being restricted to eight starts and 15 appearances off the bench in the Championship, Pearson can take encouragement from team-mates Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas.

During the Cherries’ Championship-winning campaign of 2014/15 under Eddie Howe, the pair started just six games before going on to become regulars in the Premier League.

“I think the Premier League will probably suit me,” said Pearson. “We will probably be slightly more defensive and might be on the back foot in some games.

“I want to enjoy the next couple of weeks and take in the moment before coming back firing for pre-season.

“I’ve got to cement myself as to where I want to get to with Bournemouth so I’ll do that over the off-season and then look forward to the Premier League.

“The gaffer has been brilliant with me and I think everyone would say the same. The detail he covers and the principles of him and his coaching staff, it’s relentless every day.

“People have seen his human side in some of the videos and I just think he enjoys working with all the players.

"Everybody is learning from him and enjoying it. That’s the main thing, if you’ve got a good team who are enjoying it and willing to work hard, you will go a long way.”

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