Platt Lane graduates sign their first City contracts over dinner at the Etihad Stadium.
The day the first professional contract is signed is the one that most ex-professionals cite as the proudest of their careers and for a group of Academy players, that day finally came on Friday, an event which was marked with a ceremony that took place at the Etihad Stadium.
The Premier League trophy was present for the event which took place in the Commonwealth Suite of the stadium. All the players enjoyed a meal before they signed their contracts individually with their parents and Head of Academy Mark Allen looking on.
Allen described this batch of players as “history makers”.
“I told them at the dinner that this is an iconic moment; these are the first players to sign scholarships with Manchester City as Premier League Champions and they will always remember that.”
Angus Gunn, James Hardy, James Horsefield, Marco Lopes, Dominic McHale, Billy O’Brien, Jose Angel Pozo, Liam Sharpe and Ashley Smith-Brown all signed on as first-year scholars.
These players are now eligible to play at all relevant levels and will take their places in the reckoning for Adam Sadler’s under-18s side for the 2012/13 season. The fixtures will be released for the upcoming season on 16 July.
Goalkeeper Angus Gunn, son of Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn, has already represented England at youth level in the Victory Shield and he has stated his intention to challenge for a place in the Elite Development Squad as they prepare for their second NextGen Series campaign.
“It was really exciting to sign and it was a really good night - to share that experience with my teammates and with my family was special.
“I’ve been with the Academy for a year now and for the past season I’ve been playing a year up which has been a good experience and next season my target is to break into the u21s and play in the NextGen Series, to play against top European clubs.”
For the under-16s, a huge season both on and off the field kicks off with pre-season training at Platt Lane on Monday as the Academy wheel begins another season-long rotation.
These are the group of players that will hope to emulate the likes of Angus Gunn with scholarships at the end of the coming season while also facing an important year academically, with their GCSEs coming up in the summer.
We’ll be following both age-groups throughout the season at this critical moment in their developments.