Mansfield Town are delighted to announce that young striker Zayn Hakeem has today signed his first professional contract with the club.
Hakeem, 17, has signed a deal until the end of the 2018/19 season, which gives him security about his future in the game.
The Antigua and Barbuda under 20 international is currently in his second year on the club’s EPPP programme (Elite Player Performance Plan) at Brooksby Melton College and was a stand-out performer during last season's Football League Youth Alliance title-winning campaign.
Hakeem’s outstanding form over the last year has culminated in him being involved with Adam Murray’s first team squad on a number of occasions, making his senior debut in the last game of the 2015/16 season against Cambridge United and appearing as a second-half substitute in an EFL Cup match at home to Blackburn this term.
After putting pen-to-paper on his first even professional deal, Hakeem was delighted to sign and paid tribute to the people who have helped him to reach this point in his career.
"I’m over the moon to sign my first professional contract. I’m happy to be at the club. I want to thanks the gaffer (Adam Murray), Karl [Hawley], Coops (Richard Cooper), Demps (John Dempster), Scott Rickards, all the youth team coaches. It’s overwhelming really.
"It’s what you dream of from the start of the scholarship, even from when you’re young, to sign your first professional contract and hopefully I can just kick on from here now."
Boss Adam Murray said: "We have been very pleased with Zayn's progress this season.
"He is another one of our young players who we are trying to get into the first team environment on a consistent basis.
"Zayn's progress is as a result of a lot of people's hard work [into him] as well as the hard work from Zayn himself.
"It is another great example of the continuing growth of our football club and its continously progressive infrastructure," he added.
Director Steve Hymas witnessed Hakeem sign his contract at One Call Stadium this afternoon and he explained that it's important for the youngster to continue his education process in the club's academy.
“Zayn will remain in and around the youth team for the rest of the season to finish his development and his education, unless of course he is required by the first team," Steve said.
“Next season he will be part of the first team unit and the first team coaches can develop him further until he can have an effect on first team games, if selected.
“We don’t want to rush things with the lad as we currently have four good strikers at the club so we must be patient and his time will come.”
Commenting further, Steve said: “This contract comes on the back of Zayn’s recent international call-up for the Antigua and Barbuda Under 20s from which we have heard great reports.
“This shows maturity in the player and we want to reward him for his efforts and achievements.”
Stags PlayerHD subscribers can view Zayn's first interview with the Stags after signing pro forms.