By Rob Cornell
A call to the manager's office provided an unexpected surprise for 17 year-old midfielder Anthony Hartigan.
"The manager said he wanted to see me after I got changed on the recovery day after the Brentford cup tie," recalled Anthony, in an interview with our premium channel iFollow Dons. "I went upstairs and got called in and my Dad was there and I thought 'What's going on? What have I done?!'
"He had a meeting with me and my Dad and said that I was getting a new deal, so I was delighted! I'm buzzing! It's come around quite quickly having got my first professional deal in January and now I've signed my second contract."
A shorter version of Anthony's reaction to signing his new deal is available via a link to our official club YouTube channel below.
"My Dad travelled up on the coach on Saturday to Fleetwood. He left at half six in the morning. He's never really put any pressure on me and just lets me do my own thing and play with freedom. I think that's why I am the way I am, because I expect a lot from myself and my Dad doesn't put any pressure on me."
Anthony became the first player born in the 21st century to sign professional forms with the club when he committed to the Dons initially in January. Having impressed in pre-season, he made his competitive debut in the Carabao Cup against Brentford and followed that up with his Football League debut at Fleetwood Town on Saturday and hasn't looked at all out of place.
"It's a lot quicker. You get less time on the ball and have to close players down quicker, plus the demands of getting around the pitch. I think this is the most I've ever run in football, whereas coming into the first-team from youth football I was just a ball player that was happy to be in my comfort zone. Now I know what the manager expects and I have to get around the pitch."
Neal Ardley's faith in his young players had a big influence in Anthony's decision to commit his immediate football future to the Dons.
"I think being around the first-team now, having made my league debut last weekend, I know that the manager is willing to give more opportunities to young players like myself."
"Michael Hamilton (under-16s coach and now Academy Head of Coaching) and then Mark Robinson (under-18s coach and Academy Head of Football) and his assistant James Oliver-Pearce have helped me to get where I am now, but I still haven't achieved anything and the same goals remain – to get more minutes and play as many games as I can."
The full interview with Anthony Hartigan on signing his new deal with AFC Wimbledon is available to subscribers of our premium iFollow Dons channel.