JACK Sims left his family bursting with pride after the 20-year-old made his professional debut for Blackpool on Boxing Day.

Sims, who was born in Southend but raised on Canvey, emerged as a substitute on the half-hour mark of the Tangerines’ League One clash with Accrington Stanley after the injured Jak Alnwick was forced off.

However, goalkeeper Sims’ emergence at Bloomfield Road was a bittersweet moment for his dad, Andy.

“I can’t explain how I feel because it’s unbelievable that Jack made his professional debut,” said Andy.

“It’s so difficult to put into words and I still get goosebumps thinking about it now.

“But, at the same time, it is bittersweet because I was intending to go to the game but then couldn’t make it, which is gutting now.

“It’s devastating that I wasn’t there to see him make his debut but I’m proud of him.

“When the time comes, it’s important that you take your chance and it sounds as though he gave a good account of himself.”

Sims opted to make the move to Blackpool at the age of 16, having spent six years on the books of Southend United.

As a result, Sims was forced to leave his family and friends behind in order to chase his dream.

And Sims, who grew up a stone’s throw away from Canvey Island’s Park Lane home and watched the Gulls home and away regularly, won the Northern Alliance Cup as well as a league title during his second year as an apprentice at Blackpool.

The goalkeeper is now enjoying his third season with a professional contract, but his family were originally sceptical about him joining the Bloomfield Road outfit.

“It was a massive decision for him to go up there at that stage of his life,” added Andy.

“Blackpool arranged accommodation for him with a family and he still lives there now.

“They are like a second family for him but it was difficult to see him move away from the comfort of his own home.

“I didn’t want to see him move so far away, but it has paid off for him.”

Although Sims was disappointed to concede an injury time winner in the 1-0 defeat to Accrington, his dad believes the talented goalkeeper - who also featured for Canvey at youth level - has a bright future ahead of him.

“As long as he keeps working hard, the world is his oyster,” admitted Andy.

“They like him at Blackpool and I know he was highly regarded at Southend before that as well, while he has also been involved in England training camps.

“It’s great that he is highly thought of but he needs to bide his time.

“His debut was unexpected, but he took his chance and he is very level-headed.

“Jack is also good with his feet, so he is a modern day goalkeeper and has a lot of potential.”