Another player from successful FA Youth Cup team makes step-up
Winger Neset Bellikli’s rise through the AFC Wimbledon ranks has been rewarded with a professional contract at the club.
Neset, who joined the Dons at Under-14 level, has signed on the dotted line after an impressive season that included helping Wimbledon to the last-16 of the FA Youth Cup.
He becomes the fourth player from that Under-18 team this season to earn a professional contract, following in the footsteps of Alfie Egan, Paul Kalambayi and Toyosi Olusanya.
channel.You TubeAn interview with Neset and Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer is now on our official
Neset said: “I’ve dreamed about this and it means the world to me. I started off playing in a local league for Corinthian Casuals and when I played for Epsom Eagles we had a few games against AFC Wimbledon and that’s when my relationship with the club began. I’ve loved every minute of my time at the club since. I feel part a part of it here because it’s a family club. I know all about the history of this club.
“It was a really good season for me and the FA Youth Cup was amazing. I never thought we could play in such big stadiums against big teams and overcome expectations. It is just the start though because I’ve been told that I have to work harder. I’m not the biggest boy so I need to get in the gym and work hard off the pitch as well as on it.”
Neset still works in a chip shop run by his parents in Morden on a Friday night and Jeremy joked that he may need to give that a miss next season if he’s called up for first-team duty!
However, Neset’s signing is great news for the academy, according to Jeremy, as it further highlights that AFC Wimbledon is a club really striving to produce its own.
“We have boys like Paul Kalambayi and Toyosi Olusanya who came in more recently, but Neset is more from the ‘old guard’ and the group of boys who were playing for us when we were in local leagues,” said Jeremy. “
“Neset has great technique and a wonderful left foot. He creates and scores goals and that was definitely in evidence during the FA Youth Cup run. In his development reports we’ve talked about his work off the ball and his defensive side, but we feel that he is at a certain level of being able to do that now. If he can add to that we feel we have a fantastic player who we can progress.
“Neset is our fourth player from the academy to sign a professional contract this season. Paul is a year younger, but he really kicked on strongly this season, Alfie grabbed a lot of headlines with his goals in the FA Youth Cup run and Toyosi scored for the first-team last week on his debut, which was fantastic. What we have now in place as an academy is because of what we were doing many years ago and the foundations that were laid at the time.”