Academy star turns pro

Thursday 25 April 2002

Fulham have awarded another promising Academy star with his first professional contract.

Midfielder Darren Pratley signed on the dotted line earlier in the week and now joins fellow young professionals Sean Doherty, Zesh Rehman and David Shevel.

Having joined the club from Arsenal, Darren's progress was rewarded with a contract on his 17th birthday.

Speaking to Fulham Today, Academy Director Steve Kean explained what type of player Fulham's latest signing is.

"He can play in a few different positions. He's played on the right side of midfield as well as behind the two strikers. He's actually very good in that role but he hasn't played there as much because Michael Timlin's done so well this season. As a result we've played Darren on the right.

"He's going to be a good, athletic player. He's got a good frame; we've worked on his touch and his understanding of the game. We just need to see how he can further develop in that position behind the front two.

"Michael Timlin's progressed quite quickly and is now playing reserve games, so maybe Darren will now get the opportunity to play more games in his natural position."

Making the move from Academy scholar to professional player is clearly a big step in any player's career. However, Steve Kean was quick to emphasise that the transition won't change Pratley's day-to-day routine as much as it has his status as a player.

"It doesn't change anything as far as the way he's going to play and he doesn't automatically get into the reserve team. He'll continue his education in the under 17-19 group. Obviously at the right time he'll be moved up and will progress through the teams."

It's a momentous achievement for young Darren and on behalf of the supporters and all at the club, we'd like to wish him the very best for the future.