Southend United can confirm teenage striker Kenny Coker has joined Norwich City for an undisclosed fee.
The 17-year-old made his first team debut in February 2020 in a 2-1 win against Lincoln City, becoming the third youngest ever player to represent the club at 16 years and 83 days.
He went on to feature five times in total for the first team, three of which came in the 2020/21 season.
Academy Manager Ricky Duncan praised the work of everyone in the Academy in producing a young talent and thanked the Chairman for his long-term support in enabling the Academy to flourish.
“We played Norwich during the season and Kenny had a really good game which highlighted him," said Duncan. "He’s something different which they haven’t got.
“They came and watched him a few times and he was scoring quite regularly.
“When they came in for him then the two clubs had to agree which they did eventually. Kenny went and had a trial up there to make sure it was what he wanted to do and it was a big decision for him and his dad because they live locally.
“I think the draw for him going to a Category 1 Academy at a club that have just been promoted to the Premier League was too much to resist and from our point of view it’s another pathway for players at the club.
“I know that fans want to see them go into our first team and so do we, but these clubs can come along and we have to accept that we’re going to lose a few every now and then.
“The first pathway is our first team, and Kenny did do that with us at Southend.
“But it’s hard to stop a young lad going to a club at their level. Hopefully if we can get back up to the Championship, I think then it's harder for players to leave us, but at the moment where we are it’s a great opportunity for him.
“Financially for the football club, if we’re not producing players for our first team but we’re bringing finances in, then we’re doing both jobs.
“The Chairman backs the Academy and I want to thank him for his long-term support because, despite the club’s relegation, he’s publicly come out and said he will back the Academy again, which is great because it settles the staff and players down knowing that he is still supporting it.
“Without his support we wouldn’t be able to run it, it’s as simple as that.
“The Academy has been a success story so as long as we can maintain that we will have more Kenny’s hopefully in the first team or being sold.”
In total Coker played 31 times for the U18s, scoring 14 goals having made his debut as a schoolboy in September 2019.
He netted on just his second appearance, as a substitute in a 4-1 EFL Youth Alliance Cup win over Milton Keynes Dons.
Having signed a scholarship, this season he scored 10 times in 17 games, including a hat-trick in his final appearance of the campaign against Luton Town in a 4-3 Merit League Two victory on 24th April.
Everybody at Southend United Football Club would like to wish Kenny every success for the future.