"WHO'S that," was the most common phrase among the large crowd gathered for City's pre-season tussle with Guiseley.

Even by friendly standards, Phil Parkinson had named a scratch team stuffed with trialists.

Only four of the team on that July evening were contracted to the club. And now one of those, Jon Lewis, has moved on like so many other summer hopefuls.

The Bantams faithful squeezed into Nethermoor knew of the American. He was the kid from RIASA; the next Nahki Wells.

A precocious talent so exciting that City had already handed him a two-year deal.

The quick feet and jinking runs, even in a pre-season environment against part-time opponents, promised much.

There was another glimpse in City's friendly with Carlisle, when the teenager almost bagged a last-minute goal.

That was his first appearance at Valley Parade – and his last. On Monday, it was announced that Lewis had returned to his native Florida because he was homesick.

The news will have come as no big surprise to those who followed him on a Twitter account that he has since disbanded. The tone of his messages had suggested all was not well.

And it was no shock to Mark Ellis, the former City winger who had brought him to the club's attention.

He had read the signs, although that didn't lessen his disappointment at what he saw as a big opportunity missed.

Ellis said: "I just wish Jon could have stuck with it. But it can happen as a young lad.

"A lot of people have been through the same thing. Phil admitted to me he was homesick when he went to Southampton as an apprentice – and that was in the same country.

"You could tell Jon was struggling. He had been calling me up and different people I know and you could tell something wasn't right.

"We tried to help him pull through but it wasn't to be. I don't know if somebody was perhaps giving him the wrong advice but he just wanted to go home."

Having introduced Wells to City, Ellis thought he had another starlet on his hands. Fulham were sniffing around and Bantams joint-chairmen Mark Lawn and Julian Rhodes wanted to ward off the competition by getting him on the books full-time.

Ellis said: "I suggested to Mark and Julian to get him on a trial at first. But sometimes that can rebound on you because somebody else sees him and gets in with a contract first. It's a Catch 22 situation.

"Looking back now, it would probably have been better if Jon had trained with RIASA at Leeds Beckett and we'd let him settle in with his friends in the academy.

"If we did it again, that's what we would look to do, rather than throw him straight in with the club. He was a long way from home, didn't drive and I think he found it tough.

"It was nothing to do with his ability. He had started off great. But then he went home for a week (at the end of pre-season), which I don't think did him any favours. It probably hit him seeing his friends and family again and made it difficult to leave.

"It's a shame because you saw what he could do. He looked great in the friendly at Guiseley, had a little bit more of a taste against Carlisle and I think people were excited."

While Ellis admits he has learned from the episode, he still maintains the American market is there to be tapped.

He said: "If I was a young lad in the States, I'd always want to play in England over the MLS. There's no competition, as far as I'm concerned.

"I just hope Jon gets his head down and goes on to achieve something as a player.

"Nobody is more disappointed than me because I'd seen him play quite a lot in America and knew what he was capable of.

"But Jon left on good terms and Phil has said he will always be welcome back at the club. So we'll see.

"Phil said he was pleasantly surprised with his ability. I just wish we had nurtured him a bit more – but it's not easy when you've got 78 American lads staying at Beckett's.

"It's a bit of a mystery why it didn't work out. But they say you never know what's going to happen in football. Some lads would have gone down a different route.

"When you saw him that night against Guiseley, you'd think he might be pushing somewhere near the first team by now.

"If someone had told me then that he'd be flying home in October, I'd have laughed at them."