A Lincoln City youngster had a 17th birthday to remember after signing his first professional contract with the Imps.
Freddie Draper impressed the Academy and first-team staff at the League One Club before agreeing a three-year deal. He has trained with the first team throughout pre-season and was rewarded with the longest possible professional contract at the earliest possible moment.
The young forward shone during his first year as a scholar, including scoring in the FA Youth Cup against Preston North End at Deepdale and netting a brace against Watford at the LNER Stadium in the same competition.
Freddie joins fellow Academy graduates Sean Roughan, Sam Long, Hayden Cann and Jovon Makama as young home-grown professionals in the Imps squad.
Freddie said: “It is a dream come true, I’ve always imagined signing as a professional and I can’t wait to get started.
“It has been a tough but brilliant experience to be involved with the first-team, it has been good for me and hopefully I can keep that up throughout the season. I just want to get as many games under my belt this season and keep developing.”
“It was a great feeling scoring here at the LNER Stadium and hopefully there’s more to come. I’ve developed as a player over the past year at the club, I’ve changed position to become a striker and adapted to play with my back to goal and score different types of goals.
Jez George, Director of football at Lincoln City, said: “Freddie is an extremely talented young player with top attributes and a top mentality. We have seen through his application every day since arriving at the club as a first year scholar a year ago that he will maximise his potential and he has really responded over the last month to the challenge of training full-time with our first-team.
“The environment created by Michael Appleton could not be better for his ongoing development, but great credit also to all the Academy staff for their work with Freddie over the past 12 months.
“I would also like to give a special mention to Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Ashley Foyle, who was so instrumental in us being able to recruit Freddie after he left Derby County 18 months ago.”