Southampton Football Club has awarded James Morris, David Agbontohoma and Lucas Defise their first professional contracts.
The trio have signed one-year deals and will now continue their progression through the Academy by joining David Horseman’s Under-23s side.
Morris, who is a full-back, has been with the academy since he joined the Under-10s and has amassed 264 appearances.
The Saints fan, who originally hails from Portsmouth, shared how this is a dream come true for him and his family.
“It’s a proud moment.” said Morris. “Signing a first professional contract anywhere would be great, but signing it at the club I’ve supported since I can remember and my family all being fans it makes it special.
“I joined at Under-10s, so I have been here quite a while now. Seeing how the club has developed has been great and now we have all these great facilities. To see everyone progress has been a great experience.”
Joining him is 18-year-old David Agbontohoma, who initially joined the club from Arsenal. The centre-back made ten appearances last season and hopes to add many more.
He said: “Obviously, it’s a proud moment for me and my family, it’s something I’ve been working for my whole life.
“You see players like Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott coming through this club and it makes you think that you have an opportunity. You see players you train with joining in with the first team and think that could be me any day of the week.
“I want to keep working hard and get to the first team. The manager is looking at us young players and so I must showcase my best. I have key attributes but need to show it every day and be consistent.”
And the final signing is Belgian midfielder Lucas Defise, who contributed three goals in his 34 appearances last season.
Defise joined the club from Chelsea two years ago and is thankful for the faith that’s been shown in him.
“It and means a lot to me because I’ve worked hard to get to this position.” he said.
“It’s been a tough journey as I struggled in the first year but in the second year I did pretty well so I’m happy to have earned a contract.
“The club were really helpful, and all the staff make you feel like they care about you. They’ve helped me physically and technically; in everything they have helped me.
“My aim is to have a good season with the Under-23s and hopefully make a first-team appearance. Others have shown it is possible, you can see there is a clear pathway, and seeing others very much motivates me.”
Academy Director Matt Hale congratulated the trio on their achievement.
He said: “We’ve got three lads, James Morris who has been with us a long time since he was young, Lucas Defise who joined from Chelsea and David Agbontohoma who has joined us from Arsenal.
“They have been rewarded with a professional contract so they will join our Under-23s and they have a great chance to develop.”