Southend United are delighted to announce teenager Charlie Kelman has signed a two-and-a-half-year professional contract at the club.
The 17-year-old striker from Wickford has been rewarded for his fine performances in the U18 side this season and recent emergence in the senior team.
Kelman has scored 18 goals in 21 appearances for the Youth Team this season.
He announced himself on the first-team stage against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, scoring his first professional goal on his league debut with a wonder-strike from inside in his own half.
And he was thrilled to have signed pro terms at Blues.
“It’s a dream. I used to be a season ticket holder at Southend and I used to sit there with my friends and think ‘I want to get out there’,” said Kelman.
“I’ve been working hard and it’s good when it pays off.
“When you’re four years old and kicking a ball around, you never think it will come this quick.”
He added: “A lot of people have helped me get here. My coaches, my family, my nan and grandad, but the biggest one has been my mum. She’s been there since I went off track when I was 14 and we’ve been through a lot of hard times together, so it’s all for her. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“I’ve worked closely with Ricky [Duncan] and he’s never done me wrong. He’s always put my development first and the managers, from the Academy staff when I first joined, every single person has played a part in where I am now, and now the gaffer and the first team staff are showing faith in me.
“I love the club so I knew that here was the best place for me."
And Kelman knows the hard work continues for him.
“The hard work starts now, more so than before I got my contract. Now it’s time to kick on and show that I’m not just about the goal [against Plymouth], but I can be consistently scoring goals and hopefully have a good career.”
Blues boss Chris Powell said: “For any youngster who leaves school and has ambitions of becoming a pro, the next step after becoming a scholar is to become a professional.
“It’s a fantastic moment for Charlie and his family and us as a football club. It’s always a real great moment and we all know he’s announced himself in such a special way.
“We’ve now got him on full professional terms. It’s been in the pipeline for a long while to be honest. Myself, Ron and Rick have spoken about Charlie and now he’s all signed and I’m extremely pleased and proud of him.”