Bedlington teenager Josh Robson has been signed up by Premier League side Sunderland and says he is “buzzing” about landing a chance to further his football career.
This is the 17-year-old’s first professional football contract, though he has been a member of the Black Cats’ academy since the age of nine.
After impressing coach Robbie Stockdale, the former Bedlington High school pupil was promoted from Sunderland’s development squad to their under-21 side this season, and he was also a given a place on the first team’s substitutes’ bench by boss Sam Allardyce for their Capital One Cup game against Exeter City last August, although he did not go on to play.
In his earlier years, Josh played football for Bedlington Juniors and Ponteland United and won many trophies in tournaments and league games.
Josh, a right-footed full-back, said: “This has to be one of the proudest moments for me and my family. To be on the bench for the first team at just 17 is an amazing feeling.”
The contract Josh has signed will keep him at the Wearside club until 2018.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to progress even further,” he said, adding that he recognises that many young boys only dream of becoming professional footballers, so he is proud to be in a position to make that dream come true.
Josh was called up to the under-21 squad on nine occasions in the 2014-15 season, featuring in five of their games, and he is now a permanent team member.
Reflecting on his his first-team bench call-up, he said: “It was a surreal time and probably the best of my life.
“It’s a lot different, not only from the under-18s but the under-21s as well.
“I didn’t really understand at first, but the tempo of the game and the physicality is so much more than I was used to at under-21 level.
“Training with the first team really helps you because you know where you’ve got to improve to make the next step up, which is obviously what we’re all aiming to do.
“To hear that I was in squad to play Exeter was unbelievable. I was really surprised when I got told and, to be honest, I didn’t really believe it at first.
“A lot of people have told me to stay grounded, and I’m usually quite a grounded person, but when you’re being quite successful, it’s easy for you to lose track of that.
“I think just being reminded of that is really important, so you focus on your objectives and get better.”
“It’s brilliant, and it’s a really good feeling knowing I will be here for another few years
“I want to stay at the club, so I’m buzzing to just have a new contract.
“It’s great to be around the whole thing and having a few opportunities with the first team is what it is all about, so just being here is unbelievable, and I’m proud of that.”