A 17-year-old Kilkenny man has put pen to paper on a two and a half-year deal with Premier League side Southampton.
Central midfielder Thomas O Connor got his first professional contract yesterday after only joining the club last year.
Southamptons Academy has produced players like Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.
The central midfielder successfully completed the first year of his two-year scholarship this season, where he made 18 appearances for Craig Fleming’s Under-18s, and broke into the Under-21s too, making four appearances towards the end of the campaign.
Thomas’s gaa club is Tullogher Rosbercon and he has also won a post primary schools gaelic football medal with Good Counsel New Ross.
Speaking to Southamptonfc.co.uk, the local man said…..
“It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was three or four years of age so it’s hard to believe that this day has finally come. I’m delighted.”
Having started out his career in his native Ireland, O’Connor says the opportunity to develop his career at Saints is one that he couldn’t refuse.
He said: “I started playing soccer when I was about five and I went to a few clubs, but when I came to Southampton I knew it was the right place and I’m just delighted to be offered a contract here. There was no doubt in my mind that this is the right place to come.
“It was difficult at the start, but once I got into the swing of it and got to know the lads I just settled down and playing football every day is something you can’t beat.”
His four appearances for the Under-21s team have left O’Connor wanting a taste of more, and his aim now is to establish himself at that level next season.
“It’s a big step up, but once you get to know the lads there as well in that group and start playing with the lads day-in, day-out you improve too, and it’s always nice to make the step up,” he said.
“I just want to work hard in the off season, get fit in pre-season and hopefully make the step up into the Under-21s next year, that’s the aim.”