When a club has an Academy as strong as Blackburn Rovers', the goodbyes are that much harder.

For so many of Rovers' young players, being released is the end of a journey that has filled most of their lives.

Ben Fyles has been at the club since the age of 8, though he spent two years around the set-up before signing on. 14 years after his first session, he's ready to fly the nest.

A boyhood Rovers fan, the winger admits it will be an emotional experience, leaving behind not just the club but team-mates and staff he has grown so close to.

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"It is upsetting because I have been here for so long," he told RoversTV.

"All my friends, my family, they support Blackburn. It's not just about me, it's the bigger picture. Things fans don't see, it's different for your family, I might have to move away.

"There are so many things outside of football, it is your life-changing. But it's what I need, I've had a bad injury and I need to play men's football.

"As much as I would love to stay here for longer, I just can't. They told me I was leaving a few weeks ago but it's what I need. 

"The lads in the 21s, they have been here for so long. Kristi Montgomery, Pat Gamble, we have been here since Under-12s. You see them every day but it won't be as often. Off the pitch, it's more upsetting.

"I came to the club when I was six. I played Sunday league at Wilpshire, Adam Wharton was there, a few of those lads went to Preston, Accrington Stanley and to Academies.

"My parents wanted me to enjoy football at that age. I came to Blackburn but I didn't sign until 8. Since then, I've been here at every age group. When I leave it'll be emotional.

"It has been the best thing, even when I was younger, everyone supported Blackburn at school. Mine was half Rovers, half Burnley. When you play for the club you support, you get that extra percentage.

"I am sure I'll be back at Ewood again. I'll always check the score and see if my friends break into the first team. It's difficult, I'll miss the people in the club as well as the football club.

"That's the thing I will miss the most."

Luck has not been on Fyles side. Football is filled with sliding doors moments and, unfortunately, the cards were not in his favour.

The then-19-year-old was around first-team training in the early part of 2023 and was included in the travelling squad that beat Leicester City in the FA Cup under Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Fyles was knocking on the door of the first-team at boyhood club, only for disaster to strike. An anterior cruciate ligament injury that would wipe out 12 months of his career.

It was at that point, the youngster knew the writing might be on the walls. Opportunities don't come around that often and it was the worst possible time to get injured.

"I knew when I had the injury, it was a bad time. There is no good time but I knew when I did it, I was with the first team and someone would take my spot," he admits.

"I knew when I did it, this wasn't a good sign. But the injuries have helped me mentally. It's not about falling down, it's getting back up. I have done that.

"With those to one side, I've proven I can come back from bad injuries so I can't see why I can't go on and do well for myself."

Fyles will leave Rovers at the end of his deal and already has interest from Football League clubs about joining them for pre-season.

From his perspective, the most important factor is regular football. Like the club, he agreed that this was the right time to move on and experience a first-team environment, aged 20.

"I am back from the injury, I am fit now and I can go somewhere not injured," he said.

"I'm at the age of 20 where I need to play men's football. If it's not here, which the club have said, I need to go elsewhere for the best of my career. I turn 21 in October, I can't play 21s football this year.

"The best thing for me is to move on. It's a new chapter, something I haven't had to do before. I don't mind a challenge so let's see what it holds.

"A few other clubs have watched my games but I haven't made any decisions yet. I need to go somewhere and play, it's what I need.

"I'm a player who is a tricky winger, I need to adapt to men's football, you don't get that at youth level. I need to experience men's football and I will embrace that."