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Hull City striker Johan ter Horst reflects on his first year with the Premier League club after leaving Folkestone Invicta

By Steve Tervet

He may still be wearing amber and black stripes but just about everything else has changed for Johan ter Horst in the last 12 months.

Scouted during his breakthrough season at Folkestone Invicta, the diminutive striker earned himself a big move to the Premier League when Hull City offered him a three-year contract.

Ter Horst was a star at the Fullicks Stadium, scoring 26 goals in 2013/14 to fire Invicta to the Ryman League Division 1 South play-offs.

The 20-year-old’s parents described the move to Hull as like going to ‘football university’ and ter Horst admitted his first training session felt like walking into a new school for the first time.

He said: "It was a bit nervy because I was the new boy and they’re quite a close-knit team. Most people there came through the youth team whereas I was the outsider coming in. They were a bit wary of me at first. Most of them are from the area and they know each other outside football.

Johan ter Horst in action for Hull City's under-21 side against Scunthorpe
Johan ter Horst in action for Hull City's under-21 side against Scunthorpe

"It was a bit tricky. It’s a higher standard than Folkestone and I noticed the lads there weren’t making mistakes. I’d make more mistakes than they would and I thought I wasn’t good enough at first. I wasn’t scoring as many goals as I’d have liked at the start of the season so that was a big thing.

"Since the turn of the year, I’ve been playing a lot better and I’ve started scoring more."

The technicalities of development matches are a world away from the hurly-burly of non-league football, as ter Horst quickly discovered.

He said: "It’s a different style of football. In the Ryman League, you hit the ball into areas and play in their half but here, you get the ball down and get it under control. You’ve got to be more tactical.

"In the last three months I’ve definitely come on. I’ve worked a lot on my finishing in training. We’ve all got something called an ILP – an individual learning plan – which you put together with the coaches and we’ve been doing five sessions a week in the gym to help our upper-body strength."

Folkestone supporters have followed ter Horst’s progress but what they’re really waiting for is to hear his name mentioned on Match of the Day.

So how close is the former Invicta man to Steve Bruce’s senior squad?

Ter Horst said: "The thing with Hull is that the first-team’s rocketed ahead and the academy’s stayed the same. There’s a massive gap between the first team and the academy and that gap means it’s tricky for us.

"I don’t think any of us will be there in the near future. The academy’s trying to get Category 2 status as opposed to Category 3, which would mean playing against Leeds, Burnley and the Sheffield clubs rather than Mansfield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Scunthorpe."

Hull's Johan ter Horst helps the ball on with his right foot
Hull's Johan ter Horst helps the ball on with his right foot

Ter Horst and the Hull development side have enjoyed success this season, winning the Final Third Development League East Division.

The team plays most of its home games at North Ferriby although ter Horst has already played at the KC Stadium – and at St George’s Park against Burton.

He said: "When I first signed, I saw the place and spoke to Steve Bruce.

"This season it’s different because we’ve moved to Bishop Burton College, where the academy’s based. It’s alright but I’d prefer to be where the first-team are. I have trained with the first team a couple of times because when someone’s ill, they need someone to make up the numbers."

Ter Horst returns home to Hythe at the end of May but the hard work all begins again soon after that.

He said: "I want to hit the ground running because next year is a big year for me.

"I’ve got two years left but the third year’s not been commissioned so I need to work towards getting that new deal."

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