Callum Slattery wants to reward Southampton for the belief they have shown in him since the age of eight after agreeing his first professional deal with the club.
The 16-year-old midfielder has agreed a deal until 2018, which he will sign on his 17th birthday, as he prepares for the 2015/16 campaign.
Slattery featured regularly for Anthony Limbrick’s Under-18s side last season, scoring in the FA Youth Cup against West Ham United at St Mary’s, before making his Under-21s debut in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
The youngster says it was a huge year for him personally in terms of his development, and thanked the club for showing faith in him.
“The club have shown trust in me since I was eight, playing me and pushing me up into the older age groups,” Slattery told the club’s official YouTube channel. “For them to show that trust is massive.
“From the start signing a professional contract is what I’ve wanted to do. I’ve had to sacrifice a lot over the years. Hard work and dedication is what it takes to get a professional contract and it has all been worth it so far.
“Last season was all a learning curve. The change was massive in terms of the football and the maturity. Playing in the Under-18s and getting a couple of chances with the Under-21s was great.
“I’ve been here a long time, this is who I’ve wanted to play for from the age of eight and Southampton want me to be playing for them as they’ve given me a professional contract.
“I’ve progressed over the years and that is because of Southampton. From the age of eight I’ve wanted to get a professional contract. Obviously I’m delighted to have progressed enough to earn that.”
Slattery’s performances for Saints saw him earn international recognition with England’s Under-16s, with the midfielder paying testament to Under-18s boss Limbrick for aiding his development over the last year.
“He’s believed in me. That’s the main thing,” Slattery added. “He’s put me in the Under-18s squad regularly from the start which has given me a massive confidence boost.
“His confidence in me has been huge and I’m thankful for that. Having the honour to play for my country is through playing for Southampton.
“They have given me the chances to be seen by England and I’m thankful for that. It’s great to play for my country.
“Southampton Football Club is all about giving chances and believing in you.
“The next step for me now is hopefully more regular Under-21s football, with the long-term vision to play for the first-team in front of the crowd at St Mary’s.”