Huw Jennings, FFC's Academy Director, confirmed on Friday morning that highly rated youngster Richard Peniket has agreed to join the Club's Academy from Walsall. The 16-year-old striker was courted by a host of Premier League clubs, but after a successful few days at Fulham's Motspur Park Training Ground, put pen to paper with the Whites.
Peniket will officially join The Academy on July 1st and as his father Mick explained, despite stiff competition for his son's signature, there was only ever one destination once Richard had visited Fulham at the start of the month.
“Originally my wife and I didn’t want him to leave home so the clubs that were our main targets were Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion," Mick explained. “Birmingham City had offered a professional contract and Liverpool were desperate to get him. West Bromwich Albion were keen to get him down and Newcastle also showed an interest.
“He had a trial period with Manchester United but he didn’t enjoy that. When Richard came down to Fulham for four days he was so impressed with the set-up. When he came home he said that he loved it. He said he enjoyed the lads, which is important, and he said Gary Brazil was fantastic. That was a big thing for him. He felt everything was right as we all did as a family.”
Richard's mother Debbie reiterated her husband’s sentiments about Fulham and was clearly impressed with the Club’s infrastructure and personnel on her visits to Motspur Park.
“I’m a people person and Fulham went out of their way to meet us and talk to us. They were very sensitive and I thought ‘these are decent people with good values’. To me that’s the most important thing – if people have good values it stands for a lot.
“Richard’s worked so hard and it’s the culmination of eleven years work. I was always of a mind that if we could get him an opportunity close to home that would be utopia. I was quite surprised at myself but having visited Fulham I just thought ‘he can do this here’ because everything about it is right. Richard also said ‘it’s not going to be a problem’.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity which wasn’t on our radar but once we’d been to Fulham and had a look we knew it was right. Richard was incredibly impressed with how he was managed and communicated with during his time there. He loved meeting Roy Hodgson and even bumping into First Team players, who even though they didn’t know who he was, acknowledged him.
“He’s incredibly happy but now he’s got to concentrate on his GCSE’s. He is desperate to play now and will officially be joining Fulham on July 1st."