Interview with young midfielder after he signed his first pro contract
Birthday.thPromising midfielder Anthony Hartigan today made it a double celebration by signing a professional contact at AFC Wimbledon on his 17
century to sign professional forms at AFC Wimbledon.stAnthony’s signing is also a landmark one for the club as he becomes the first player born in the 21
Having been spotted playing for coaching company Pro Direct Soccer three years ago, it’s been a rapid rise for Anthony, who is pictured centre above with Under-18s manager Mark Robinson (left) and Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer.
This season, Anthony’s impressive midfield performances during the club’s FA Youth Cup run have caught the eye and he came to the attention of fans with a wonderful lob from the halfway line that won the Academy Goal of the Month.
Speaking shortly after signing for the Dons today, a delighted Anthony said: “We arranged for me to sign a professional contract on my Birthday, but I only found out on Tuesday, which was quite exciting. I only started here three years ago and before that I had not played academy football in my life. It is great and it means a lot to me.
“I think my best attribute is probably passing. I need to work on my heading, tackling, and I need to be able to get around the pitch. The gaffer has seen me play in a three, but he wants me to play in a two, and at the top of a three, in more of an attacking role.”
channel to watch the full interview with Anthony and Academy Manager Jeremy Sauer chatting to WDON’s Rob Cornell.You TubeVisit our official
(number five).videoView a clip of Anthony’s superb long-range strike this season by watching the Academy Goal of the Month
Jeremy added that Anthony had been rewarded for his smooth adaption to a full-time football environment, building on the rich promise shown since he joined Wimbledon.
“This has worked out really well in terms of timing with the FA Youth Cup game coming up and it being Anthony’s Birthday,” said Jeremy. “It is an all-round special day. He came out of nowhere really. At Under-14s James Scott was Anthony’s coach, he spotted him playing against us for Pro Direct Soccer. James told us to have a look at him and we recognised his talent early on. Anthony was playing as a striker for them, he had not played in midfield much, but he slotted in there well.
“The test for us is that we know players at 15 and 16 have loads of potential, but can they go forward and progress into the Under-18s and adapt to a full-time programme? It is about how they manage themselves around first-team staff, senior players, and Under-21s staff. We gave Anthony that transition for the first few months, knowing really that if he fulfilled that part of it, there would be a pro contract at the end of it.
“Anthony really can run a midfield and he has been doing that at 16 years of age. He has also been scoring goals for us from midfield with 11 this season. They have been different goals to Alfie Egan, more goal of the month contenders from outside the area. There is plenty of ability in his feet.
“Mark Robinson and James Oliver-Pearce had such a big influence on his transition into full-time football, but before that Michael Hamilton, our Under-16s coach, looked after Anthony for a couple of years. That gave him the perfect preparation for Under-18s and that’s why it has gone so smoothly for Anthony.”