Exciting young forward Freddie Draper turned 17th today, and was rewarded with his first professional contract.
The forward, who sprang to prominence with two superb goals against Watford in last season’s FA Youth Cup, has agreed on a three-year deal. He is reported to have impressed this pre-season in both friendlies, training with the first team throughout the summer.
“It is a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve always imagined signing as a professional and I can’t wait to get started. It has been a tough but brilliant experience to be involved with the first team, it has been good for me and hopefully, I can keep that up throughout the season. I just want to get as many games under my belt this season and keep developing.”
The former Derby County youngster impressed during his first year as a scholar, scoring in the FA Youth Cup to knock out Preston, before his Watford brace.
“It was a great feeling scoring here at the LNER Stadium and hopefully there’s more to come,” he added. “I’ve developed as a player over the past year at the club, I’ve changed position to become a striker and adapted to play with my back to goal and score different types of goals. The Academy staff have helped me develop and learn different aspects of my game, they’ve really helped me push on to where I am now.”
Director of football Jez George was effusive in his praise of the young striker, telling the club’s official site: “Freddie is an extremely talented young player with top attributes and a top mentality. We have seen through his application every day since arriving at the club as a first-year scholar a year ago that he will maximise his potential and he has really responded over the last month to the challenge of training full-time with our first team.
“The environment created by Michael could not be better for his ongoing development, but great credit also to all the Academy staff for their work with Freddie over the past 12 months. I would also like to give a special mention to Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Ashley Foyle, who was so instrumental in us being able to recruit Freddie after he left Derby County 18 months ago.
“This is a brilliant and thoroughly well-deserved day for Freddie and his family. We have great belief in him, as demonstrated by signing Freddie on the longest possible professional contract at the earliest possible moment, but he knows that it is just another step on the long path to what he wants to achieve.”
Freddie’s ascension to the first team squad makes him the fifth scholar to make the step up, following in the footsteps of Sean Roughan, Sam Long, Hayden Cann and Jovon Makama. If Makama joins Gainsborough as expected, it will leave Freddie as one of three out-and-out strikers on our books, the others being Tom Hopper and loan star Dan Nlundulu.