Southampton Football Club are happy to announce that exciting young forward Dom Ballard has signed his first professional contract.
The 17-year-old striker is enjoying a breakthrough season at the club, making 41 appearances across the B team and Under-18s sides, contributing 26 goals.
With five of these coming in Premier League 2 and a further 13 in the U18 Premier League, the youngster has also been rewarded this campaign with call-ups to England’s Under-17s side.
Ballard signed a two-year scholarship deal last July, eight years on from joining Saints in 2013.
On signing his professional deal, he said: “It’s something that I’ve only ever dreamed of. Now that it’s happening it’s a dream come true.
“It was an easy decision because of how good the club is and how it feels to be here. I’m really enjoying it and it’s a credit to the way we play here, it suits my attributes so well.
“It’s been really great to share the pitch with the Under-18s boys and I think that reflects why I’m scoring so much. I just feel so comfortable, it’s just such a good environment.
“I’ve come a long way since the start of the year, had such a big step. But I won’t stop now, I’ve got to push on and hopefully see more first team and make a debut in years to come.”
Ballard mentioned Academy coaches Danny Maye and Tony Salentino as key influences during his time at the club, both of whom have fond memories of the young forward.
“I had the pleasure of coaching Dom for three seasons between the ages of 12 to 14,” said Salentino, “where he experienced the highs and lows of an elite football environment.
“His football journey has been driven by his high desire, application, determination and enthusiasm to improve, along with the complete support of his family.”
Maye concurred, adding: “I worked with Dom between the ages of 14 and 16. He didn’t always have it easy but his potential was clear from a young age.
“He consistently worked hard and played with a smile on his face. Players like Dom are so enjoyable to coach. He fully deserves this opportunity and I look forward to watching him develop.”
Academy Director, Matt Hale said: “Dom has had a whirlwind of a last 18 months with the achievement of a scholarship contract, followed quickly by a professional contract and recognition from the England national team.
His progress is an indication of his passion for Southampton and drive to do well along with the support of a highly skilled multi-disciplinary team through the phases of our pathway.
He had handled his first team training exposure well and we look on with anticipation just how much Dom can achieve at Southampton.”