We are delighted to announce that a crop of rising Wimbledon talents have all signed professional contracts – and now they are determined to be a part of our exciting future.
On a proud day for our academy, four members of last season’s FA Youth Cup squad – a side that knocked out Burnley and took Spurs to extra-time – put pen to paper at Plough Lane. Luke Jenkins, Isaac Ogundere, Kwaku Frimpong, and Dylan Adjei-Hersey committed their futures to the club. In addition, forward David Fisher, who enjoyed prolific spells at Carshalton Athletic and Hampton & Richmond Borough last season, has also signed a pro deal.
Academy Manager Michael Hamilton said: “It’s a brilliant day with the boys signing their professional contracts. This is a massive part in their journeys, but it is just a step as there is still so much work for them to do. It is a great day for the academy and a great day for the boys.
“Now it all starts becoming real. From when they joined the academy we talked to them about going back home, playing in Wimbledon, and representing the badge. This is just the next step and hopefully in the next 18-24 months we will start seeing boys transition from where they are now in their development to stake a claim for the first-team.”
Watch an in-depth interview with Michael Hamilton and James Oliver-Pearce below, via the link to our official YouTube channel.
Below is more information on all five, plus quotes from each player, and Under-18s manager James Oliver-Pearce on their strengths.
James: “In terms of his one v ones, he’s incredibly balanced because he can use both feet. He’s very good at shifting over five yards and his end product is really positive. He’s not interested in all of the flair. Even though he has that, David is more interested in the end product.”
David on signing: “It means a lot to me and my family because we are all Wimbledon fans and I first joined Wimbledon at Under-9s. My Dad went to the Cup Final in 1988 against Liverpool – he’s always telling me that he wants to see me out there playing at Plough Lane and I’m going to try to make that happen.
“I’m quite versatile across the front three, or even as a number 10. I have had a few spells of playing men’s football, so I feel that I’ve proven myself at a lower level now. The step between National South and League One isn’t massive, so I feel that I can stake a claim for the squad. That’s what I will be trying to do in pre-season.”
Watch the full interview with David below.
James said: “When the ball is up in the air and you need someone to dominate Luke is that person. At set pieces he is a huge threat and he has fantastic desire. He has had a few injury problems in the last year or so, but hopefully he’s coming to the end of that, and he will stay fit and healthy.”
Luke on signing: “This is something you dream about as a young kid. To be here at this club with its amazing history and the story of being back at Plough Lane is a fantastic feeling and I can’t wait to crack on next season.
“It’s been a long road to this point now. My Dad has taken me all around the country and all over the world on tours. I’ve had ups and downs, including being released by clubs, so to get this chance is something I’ve dreamed of. I joined Crystal Palace when I was eight and I was there for seven years, but I got released and that hit me hard mentally.
"I had a little break from football, but then I joined Sutton United. When I was there we played Wimbledon in a friendly and Robbo invited me for a trial. I’ve been here for two-and-a-half years now. Wimbledon offered me a scholarship and I was welcomed with open arms. It was really different from what I was used to, in terms of leadership and ownership. There was just a really good feeling around the club and I’ve had the best years of my life doing the scholarship here. To sign here now as a pro is amazing and I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Watch the full interview with Luke below.
James said: “For 210 minutes in the FA Youth Cup last season (including extra time versus Spurs) Isaac was almost foot perfect. We had a very young back line in both games, but he took responsibility to organise because he was the senior figure. To keep some of the Spurs players quiet, including Dane Scarlett, who has a fantastic future, was incredible.
Isaac on signing: “It’s a great day – probably the best day of my life. I’ve worked so hard for this in the last 13 years, but there’s a lot of hard work to come. All the boys know how much the club means to the fans. The amount of money they raised for the stadium was amazing.
“I played for Brentford until I was 13 when the academy shut down. I had two years out of football, I wasn’t really playing too much and I had unsuccessful trials with four or five clubs. I lost my confidence a bit, but I played for one year at Hayes & Yeading Under-18s. I got my confidence back, got scouted by Wimbledon, and I managed to earn a scholarship here at Under-16s.”
Watch the full interview with Isaac below.
Position: Central midfielder
James said: “Kwaku is a powerhouse midfielder who loves tackling and he’s very strong. He’s incredibly passionate about his football.”
Kwaku on signing: “I joined Wimbledon at the age of 16 after being recommended by Ben Thatcher. I played for Chipstead with his son. I always give 100 per cent for the team when I’m on the pitch. I have a lot of passion and the first thing on my mind is to win. I always thought that if I kept working hard the chance would come for me, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Watch the full interview with Kwaku below.
James said: “Dylan can really make things happen, as Robbo has said in the past. You are always expecting fireworks from him and he’s someone who can definitely get the fans up on their feet.”
Dylan on signing: “I’ve always wanted to be a professional footballer and eight years after joining Wimbledon I’ve finally put pen to paper. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to continue the hard work. To first come here eight years ago when we didn’t have a lot, and to sign here now in a brand new stadium – and with the prospect of the fans being back soon – is great. It’s a story you want to tell to everyone. My Mum and Dad both work full-time, but they’ve always managed to take me to training and to games. My Mum doesn’t drive, so sometimes she will get the train to games if my Dad is working, so she is my number one supporter!”
Speaking shortly after all five committed their futures to Wimbledon, James added: “People don’t really get to see that it’s not just about the last year and them turning professional. It’s been about the journeys up and down the country with their families supporting them and their coaches too. They are all typical Wimbledon players, they really care and they are passionate about their development. Their progression has been really pleasing and long may that continue.”
Watch the full interview with Dylan below.
Finally, Michael Hamilton confirmed that Troy Chiabi and Julian Sarimento-Ramirez were not offered professional contracts at the end of their scholarships, whilst Isaac Olaniyan will continue on a third-year scholarship with the academy.
“I’d like to wish Troy and Julian the best of luck with the next step of their development,” he said. “Both are talented young men who with the right application and hard work can ensure this minor setback is the springboard for success in the future.”