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Kicking on towards professional contract with two-year youth deal

MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Tom Smith at Ipswich Town Football Club on the day he signed the scholarship deal
MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Tom Smith at Ipswich Town Football Club on the day he signed the scholarship deal

King Edward VI School is celebrating the success of one of its pupils taking the next step in his football career, with a two-year Ipswich Town scholarship.

Tom Smith, 16, has become the latest at the Bury St Edmunds school to sign a deal with the Suffolk Championship club, following in the footsteps of Ed Upson (now MK Dons), Jack Lankester and Brett McGavin — the latter two of whom starred in Ipswich’s FA Youth Cup run this season.

The Year 11 pupil said it was ‘great’ to take the next step in his career, as he chases his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

He said: “I have been at the club’s Academy since I was nine so I know the club well.

“It’s what I do, I’m very comfortable playing at the club, I get to do what I love and this scholarship is the chance to play here for two more years.

“Football is my passion and it would be absolutely amazing to one day be professional.

“I see this as my chance to achieve that, another two years to chase a professional contract.”

The youngster, who is preparing to take his GCSEs in a matter of weeks, believes he has developed a lot as a player and a person through the support he has been given.

“The school have been great,” he said.

“And I also enjoy playing for the school team, we’re all mates and have grown stronger together.

“We’re in the school cup finals this month and I’m really looking forward to that.

“It would be great to go all the way, it’s been a great year so far and that would just top it off.”

The Suffolk County Schools’ Football Association’s 2018 Cup Finals, Smith said, will be held at Needham Market’s Bloomfields ground on Wednesday, May 16.

Director of community sport at King Edward VI, Danny Burton, said the school was ‘delighted’ by the youngsters success.

He said: “It’s a brilliant thing, we are very proud of him.

“It’s absolutely fantastic but we know we have had only a small hand in that, Tom is the one who has done all the work.

“He has long been involved with the Ipswich set-up and has been on day release for many years.

“It means he spends one day a week off the timetable so he is able to train with Ipswich — of course there is education built into that day as well.

“For a school, it’s a little strange, as he has quite a lot of fixtures that we have to accommodate for example.

“But we are fully supportive of what he’s working hard towards, and we think he has the talent.”

He said the school, which was formerly a sport college, still attracts promising sports stars as it is something they still work to be flexible around.

“We’ve historically combined academics with sport and so parents still identify us as a school that will do that,” he said. “And we’re very happy to help in the journey to success.”

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