ACADEMY Director Dave Wright revealed his excitement after seeing eleven young players sign scholarship forms at the Britannia Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The budding youngsters put pen-to-paper on two year deals following an opening ceremony in the Sir Stanley Matthews Lounge as they look ahead to linking up with John Perkins’ Under-18 squad for the forthcoming season.
Following the signing process, Wright said it was a special occasion for the players and their families, as well as the Club with many of those who have agreed deals recruited from within the city and surrounding areas.
“We are extremely delighted with the new intake of players this year,” Wright told Stoke City Player
“It’s a proud day for the boys and they should be pleased with what they have achieved so far, but as Tony Scholes and I said to them, they are now at the beginning of a new journey to achieve their professional status and must kick on.
He added: “It has been pleasing once again that we have signed up many local boys who have been in our system for a considerable period of time.
“One in particular has been here since the age of six, whilst most of the others have been in and around us since they were 12-14.
“We’ve also added a few from outside that group from further afield so overall we are all delighted with the intake.”
Among those to have signed from abroad is Belgium Under-16 international Julien Ngoy and Wright admits that the Academy are thrilled to have finally landed the youngster, subject to international clearance, after a long pursuit for his services.
“There has been a lot of speculation regarding Julien in the national press over the past year or so but we have been aware of him for a long time,” he said.
“He came in on trial last season and had a lot a Premier League clubs to choose from him but he felt as though he would develop and progress best with us so we are delighted to have him on board.
The former Portsmouth youth coach added that the Club and Academy set very high standards and that the hard work is only just about to begin for the new scholars if they want to become elite level players.
“Obviously with the lads coming into a Premier League club the demands and expectations on them are extremely high,” said Wright.
“As we have explained to them though, if they thought it was hard to become a scholar, it’s going to be much tougher to earn a professional contract and stay in the professional game.
“They are all fully aware of what is expected of them and what is needed so we wish them all the best and hope they succeed.”