Defender Jack Madelin has capped an unforgettable week of personal achievements by signing his first professional contact with AFC Wimbledon.
“It’s amazing, to be honest,” said Jack. “I’ve been working towards this for a long, long time now with my coaches beside me helping me along. To finally have put pen to paper – it’s unbelievable!”
The Welsh Under-17 international was named on the substitute’s bench for last Saturday’s victory at home to Portsmouth. On Tuesday night Jack went one better, as he came on for his Wimbledon debut with just under ten minutes remaining at Burton Albion.
“It was a bit of a shock at first,” said Jack. “Just after training (for the Portsmouth game) Glyn Hodges pulled me to one side and told me I was in the squad. I wasn’t sure if I was the nineteenth man just to do the warm-up, but to be on the bench was amazing and the last-minute winner was incredible!
“It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. To play in League One (at Burton) as my debut was special and I’m thankful to Glyn and Vaughan Ryan for trusting me and putting me on.”
Jack is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his new Manager Glyn Hodges – by becoming a full international for Wales one day. Although they are big shoes to fill, he certainly isn't daunted by the prospect as he continues his football education at our training ground.
“At the moment I’m cleaning his boots, so we’ve developed a bit of a relationship over that!” said Jack. “He’s been really nice to me since he walked in the door and he’s a real positive for the club. I think he’ll take the club in the right direction.
“Going back to Plough Lane is massive. Ever since the news came out about that Wimbledon are going back to Plough Lane it’s given everyone within the club a boost, knowing that we’ll be going back home. It’s something that as academy boys we aspire to walk out there in front of the fans back in Wimbledon, where we belong.”
“It’s fantastic,” said Academy Manager Michael Hamilton. “As Jack knows, it seems so far away when you’re coming up through it, but it happens all so quickly. Only yesterday he sent me a picture, when Jack first joined our academy, and he was up to my shoulder. Five years later, here he is!
“Glyn came in on Monday and sat down with all the academy staff and he gave us the challenge of making Jack the first of an all academy graduates team. There’s no doubt in my mind that in the next couple of years Jack will be out there with a starting claim.”
“The biggest thing is Jack continuing his development,” said Lead Professional Phase Coach Mark Robinson. “He’s got to have that mindset where he continues wanting to get better every single day. We’ve had a lot of chats about that and I’ve seen a very different Jack over the last six to eight months and I’m confident he’ll continue with that.”
“Jack is a massive part of our squad,” said Under-18s Manager Rob Tuvey. “This season he’s been a real leader off the pitch as well as on it. We rate the squad very highly this year and we believe there are more professionals to come out of it. Hopefully they can play in front of the fans and prove that as well.”
Watch the full interview with Jack Madelin below, along with the views of Michael Hamilton, Mark Robinson and Rob Tuvey, via the link to our official You Tube channel.