PHIL Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood are all names we have heard of, but what if we were to tell you that one of Bradford (Park Avenue)’s own once regularly played against these young starlets?

Alex Hurst burst on to the scene here when he played a key role in Bradford’s play-off run last term, which helped earn him a move to Football League side Port Vale.

The 2018/19 season will live long in the memory of every Avenue fan, as they just managed to squeeze into the Vanarama National League North top seven on goal difference.

Despite defeat to Spennymoor Town at the first stage of the play-offs, the 20-year-old enjoyed the ride and credits manager Mark Bower for giving him the opportunity.

“It was brilliant to have such a good experience at a young age,” Hurst said.

“I never expected to play as much as I did that season. I came in to see if I could get a place in the squad and then played a big part in the season in the end. To finish in the play-offs was great, it was just unfortunate we missed out.

“It was the best changing room I have been involved in. It had such a good mix of older lads and younger ones.

“They (Bower and assistant Danny Boshell) gave me a chance in the Conference North and put a lot of trust in me by giving me a lot of games in different positions. They haven’t just stuck me out on the wing, they have put me in key positions like central midfield.

“They have put a lot of good pressure on me, which has allowed me to move up the leagues. I have got a lot to thank them for.”

But it was his career among the youth ranks that stands the creative midfielder out from the pack.

Hurst moved from pillar to post in those early days at the likes of Everton and Crewe, aiming to find the right club to advance his ambitions of becoming a professional footballer.

So, who was Hurst most impressed with while playing at academy level?

“Phil Foden is the best player I have played against,” Hurst said. “He was just like he is now. He controlled the game and his feet were unbelievable.

“You looked at him and thought 'I am never going to get to that level' (laughs). He is doing so well now so he is someone to look up too.”

The Football League is a stage that all non-league players aspire to reach, and that move came about for Hurst when he impressed on a trial at a club that means so much to him.

Vale were that dream team, but Hurst understands he will have to bide his time if he is to gain a regular spot in their squad.

The versatile midfielder said: “It started as a trial for three weeks. I played a couple of games and ended up signing. They mean a lot to me, with a lot of my family supporting them, so it was a dream move.

“If a team is going well, they are not going to change it, especially for a young lad. It would have been great to play in the league games and be a part of that trip to Man City (in the 2019/20 FA Cup third round), but I can’t complain. That is football.

“I was not going to get in the Vale team right away, so going straight back to playing regular men’s football, especially back at Bradford, it was brilliant.”

It has been far from plain sailing for Hurst since he returned to Avenue on a season-long loan from Vale in August.

The playmaker points to inexperience and a mass exodus of players as reasons to why his side have struggled at the foot of the National League North table.

“We got off to a bad start which kind of killed us,” Hurst said. “We probably signed too many young lads in the summer and that can go either way, we just got picked off.

“Bows and Bosh came in and it is hard to get players to come and play for a team who are struggling.

“They have done a great job to recruit the players we have got, considering the position we are in the league.”

With the season still up in the air, Hurst has one final message to the Avenue faithful if he has played his last game in a Bradford shirt.

He said: “They have been absolutely brilliant, such a loyal fan base, even this season when we have been bottom of the league. We've had long away trips to the likes of Hereford and they have been right behind us.

“We don’t get the gates of a York but the supporters we have got are some of the most loyal in the league.”