Aaron Dillon, pictured after signing a one-year deal at Blackburn Rovers
The growing trend of young goalkeepers from Donegal being snapped up by cross channel clubs shows no sign of slowing up.
Arranmore Island’s Aaron Dillon is the latest young prospect from the county to sign professional terms after agreeing a one-year deal with Blackburn Rovers.
It’s just rewards for the 20-year-old keeper who has worked so hard at achieving his dream to move to the big time. If things work out at Ewood Park, there is the option of another 12 months contract.
Speaking after putting pen to paper on his deal at Blackburn, Aaron couldn’t hide his delight.
"It is amazing really, I never thought it would happen," he said. "It is a dream come true.
"It isn't easy coming from Ireland to do this, it has been a lot of hard work for the last two-and-a-half years, but I'm happy it is finally done."
Aaron has been living away from Arranmore for a number of years, since moving to Galway to continue his secondary education.
He’s a son of Peter Dillon, a quality player in his day who played with Longford Town and Galway United in the League of Ireland, as well as Arranmore United in the Donegal League.
Unlike his dad who was a strapping centre half, Aaron is a goalkeeper of some promise and after playing for different clubs in Galway, moved to England where he linked up with Crewe Alexandra after being spotted at a goalkeeping workshop.
From there, Aaron was invited to train with Liverpool U-23s and while it was initially only intended that the player would spend a day with the Premiership club, he was invited back to train on a regular basis with the U-23 squad which was coached by Steven Gerrard and Steve McManamin.
Dillon spent the summer on the look-out for a new club and was invited to go on trial at Blackburn Rovers by their goalkeeping coach Ben Benson.
Last week, the young player was offered a one year deal and he jumped at the chance to put pen to paper.
“I’m delighted for Aaron because he has been so determined and has worked so hard at his game,” Peter Dillon told the Democrat.
“He has been in England now for over two years and he has had to be very patient. He has trained with different clubs, he was even up at Motherwell along with Carl McHugh for a while.
“When Blackburn invited him along to train with them in pre-season, he really enjoyed it, but you just didn’t know if anything was going to come from it.
“So it was just brilliant when they offered him a contract.”
Aaron said he was delighted that his trial spell with Blackburn Rovers has led to a permanent stay.
"It is an amazing feeling,” he told the club’s website.
“It is a massive opportunity and a massive club to be a part of.
"The real hard work starts now. I'm excited to get going and to show everyone what I can do.
"It has been a while since I played, so I'm looking forward to getting back to playing competitive football again and hopefully we can do good things this season."