Second-year scholar Scott Simons was one of a crop of youngsters to be offered their first professional deals this summer, and the keeper was further rewarded for his hard work last week when he took a place on the bench for the Papa John’s Trophy group game meeting with Hartlepool.
The young keeper came to the club as an under-9 and has worked his way through the academy system, successfully joining the under-18 group last term.
We caught up with him this week to talk about his achievement, and to see whether or not it had all sunk in.
“I was over the moon when I got told I was getting a contract,” he said. “It was more the relief of it, and with me having been at the club for so long it felt like such an achievement.
“To get it when I did, during my first year as a youth player, was really pleasing as well. It felt brilliant and it took the stress away from it all.
“I think it means I can concentrate on my football more and it took the stress away for my family as well. It just felt great.”
So, what was it like when he was sat down and told that it was all happening?
“All sorts of things went through my mind when I first got the news,” he told us. “It didn’t really seem real because you spend ages thinking about what it would be like, but you never really think it’s going to happen.
“It’s weird because you hope it’s going to happen for so long, so when it did it was such a good feeling. It has sunk in a bit more now, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over it really.
“My parents were obviously over the moon. My mam and dad were buzzing, my dad always asks what I’ve been doing in training and things like that, so he was delighted.
“They’ve taken me all over the place for games and training over the years, so they’re really pleased.”
Having joined the academy at such a young age, he’s no stranger to the selection process and the nerves that accompany that stage of the season where players are given the good or bad news.
“Every year in the academy you have to get to the next age group, and it is quite a worrying time,” he confirmed. “That’s why I feel it was a big achievement for me to get my scholarship after the under-16 year had finished.
“I’ve enjoyed every year I’ve been here, it’s been brilliant. I’ve worked with a lot of different coaches during my time in the academy and I’ve picked up loads of different things from all of them.
“There’s been a lot of changes along the way but it’s been brilliant to work with so many good coaches.”
And the contract has brought with it the step-up in training, where he now regularly works with within the first-team environment.
“I feel like training with the first team has helped me improve a lot,” he admitted. “It’s a big step from youth team to first team but it’s been brilliant so far.
“I think it will only help me play better and I’m really enjoying it. Training with Magnus [Norman] and Lukas [Jensen] is really good because everything is faster, so it helps me get quicker and stronger.
“Dan [Hanford] is a brilliant coach and he’s helped me a lot already. Magnus and Lukas are brilliant and are always helpful as well, and it’s great that Gabe [Breeze] has got his contract at the same time.
“We’ve worked really closely together for the past few years so it’s good to have that competition and friendship.”
And on being on the bench for the Hartlepool game, he said: “That was another good experience. It obviously went to penalties, and I would have loved to have been on the pitch, but Lukas did a really good job and saved a couple to help us win.
“Every time I’m with the first team I know it’s helping me to get better. The main thing I want to improve is my distribution, I really want to get that nailed.
“I wouldn’t like to say what my strengths are because I know I need to keep working on every part of my game. I feel like I’m doing alright but I need to work on a lot of things to keep improving and going forward.
“I feel like everything starts now. I know how much hard work goes into this and I just want to keep improving and progressing and see where I get to.”
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