Belper Town manager Peter Duffield has described Aaron Chapman as an “exciting, raw talent with bags of potential” after the young goalkeeper left the Nailers to sign for League Two side Chesterfield.
The tall, young goalkeeper, who joined Belper Town in February 2012, produced a string of commanding performances during the recently-completed season and has signed a one-year contract with the Spireites.
And he leaves with the best wishes of his former manager.
Peter Duffield explained: “If he has to leave, it’s good he has gone up into the Football League rather than just one division higher, and credit to Chesterfield for deciding to take a player out of the non-league system.
“It’s also a credit to this club because it shows this is the sort of place that people can come to and progress.
“We are bitterly disappointed we didn’t get promoted but we wouldn’t stand in the way of people who get the chance to move up the leagues.
“So it reflects well on both clubs and also on Aaron that he has attracted the attention of a league club.
“We have been good for Aaron - and he’s been good for us, so he leaves with our best wishes.”
Duffield enthused about the qualities Chapman possesses and said: “He is unbelievably agile for someone of his height, about six feet eight. He’s a thin lad, there’s not much on him, but he’s commanding and he’s coming to catch balls that other keepers would either not come for, or would punch.
“He’s only 23 and only been keeping for 2-3 years, that’s the amazing thing. He does it all by instinct.
“We have grounded him in the basics of professionalism here, that sort of thing, but ‘keeping is a specialised position and he will get that sort of specialised coaching at Chesterfield.
“He’s a great lad, I’ve never had a moment’s problems with him. He has so much exciting raw talent and bags of potential so it’s great for him.”
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“He had a dip in form early in the season when we had to bring Dave Ratcliffe into the team, who did very well, but I said to Chappy at the time, ‘this could be the making of you’.
“It’s in these tough times that you find out about yourself, and he’d not really had a tough time up to then, but he came back strongly and never looked back.
“You have to go back to basics in that situation but his attitude was spot-on. He was the first to celebrate when we scored a goal and the first to congratulate Dave when he made a good save - and Dave always did the same for Aaron, actually.
He’s got the talent and now Chesterfield have to find out about his mental strength to succeed at that level.
“We wish him well and it’s a terrific opportunity for him to make use of his talent. It also shows players in non-league that it’s not a fairy tale and you can get picked up by a league club if the talent, attitude and hard work is there.”
The negotiations on the terms of the transfer were still ongoing as the News went to press but the Nailers hope it will include the Spireites fielding a full first team squad in future pre-season games against them.