Rochdale’s highly-rated young defender Craig Dawson has signed for Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion for an undisclosed fee, and the defender has deserved his dream move to the Premier League.
Dawson, who made the switch to the Midlands club on transfer deadline day, only made his professional debut last season after Rochdale manager Keith Hill signed the promising youngster from non-league outfit Radcliffe Rovers in February 2009 on a two-year-deal, spending the rest of that season on loan at the Unibond League side. Whilst with Radcliffe Rovers, Dawson had regularly been attracting interest from a host of Premier League scouts including Tottenham Hotspur.
In his maiden season in the Football League, Dawson quickly became a fans favourite at Spotland, becoming a regular fixture in the Dale defence. The 6ft 2in centre-half played a pivotal role in Rochdale’s first promotion after 36 consecutive seasons in the fourth tier of English football, not only proving to be solid in defence but also prolific from the back, scoring 11 goals in 43 starts in all competitions last season, making him Rochdale’s record centre-half goal scorer. Dawson was awarded League Two Footballer of The Year by football magazine FourFourTwo, and made the PFA League Two team of the year for his performances last season, as he helped to guide his hometown club to promotion.
The twenty-year-old, who also played for Rochdale Cricket Club during his time at Radcliffe Rovers, will split his training between the Hawthorns club and Rochdale, as West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo looks to ease him into the Premier League outfit whilst still playing competitive league football. In what proved to be a decisive part in Rochdale accepting the Baggies’ offer for the defensive starlet, Dawson will return to Spotland for the remainder of this season on loan, in contrast to the £400,000 bid made by Middlesbrough earlier this summer.
Rochdale’s Chief Executive Colin Garlick labelled the deal a “win, win, win” scenario in a statement released by the club after Dale sold the promising youngster a couple of hours before the deadline. The loan move will enable the defender to better himself with the aid of Premier League quality facilities and coaches, whilst at the same time help his hometown club avoid relegation to the league they spent 36 years trying to get out of. Furthermore Dawson will be playing league football every week under Keith Hill, rather than reserve outings which he most probably would have endured at West Brom this season leaving parent club West Brom safe in the knowledge that their latest signing will be as best prepared to make the step-up next season, whether it be Premiership or Championship level.
Dawson has signed a three-year-deal with West Brom, with an option of extending it to a fourth year with the fee reported to be around £600,000.