Longridge Town boss Lee Ashcroft paid tribute to George Thomason after he completed his move to Bolton Wanderers last week.
A year after making the move to Longridge, Thomason has made the step up to League One after joining Wanderers.
Having previously been released by Blackpool, Thomason joined Town where he was converted from a left-back to a central midfielder.
“He’s had an outstanding year with us,” Ashcroft told the club website after the deal went through.
“I couldn’t be more pleased for the lad. He has a superb attitude, is willing to listen and learn, and his confidence has come on in leaps and bounds.
“A big difference for him will be the speed of thought in the professional game, but George is a very intelligent footballer and has a great football brain for such a young lad.”
Thomason is the second player Ashcroft has developed for Bolton boss Keith Hill, having seen Joe Bunney join Rochdale seven years ago.
Ashcroft admitted it was a double-edged sword with his pleasure at Thomason’s move tempered by the loss of a key player as Town seek another promotion.
He said: “Well, that’s always the downside to be honest.
“My job of course is to do the best for Longridge Town but also to improve players, and if we are to be known as a progressive club in that area, it can only be good for us.
“These young lads that are released from clubs often drift away, and can even stop playing the game if they become too disillusioned, but it’s still a game that should be enjoyed.
“If you can get them enjoying the game again, then you see the benefits out on the pitch in their performances and that is very satisfying.”
Thomason’s move has a potential further benefit for Town with Hill promising to bring a first-team squad to the Mike Riding Ground for a pre-season friendly ahead of the 2020/21 season.
“That’s a great gesture from Keith to be honest,” Ashcroft said.
“I’ve known him a long time and when I rang him about George back in October he was great with the lad and his family, giving him a week-long trial, good feedback and committed to this January move there and then.
“We are all very proud of George at Longridge, and the other young players that have moved on having done well for us, and I know that he’s in good hands at Bolton.”