Chris lands first pro deal

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MANY budding footballers dream of making it to the big time.

But Chris Turner has managed to earn himself a place on the professional ladder.

The 17-year-old was handed his first professional contract last Friday, after being signed on by Accrington Stanley.

And Turner expressed his delight at being handed the news: "It's a dream for me.

"I was buzzing when I heard the news, but to be honest I was half-expecting it.

"They had included me in the first team squad for a game in February, so I thought that my chances were good.

"At the same time you have to prepare yourself for the worst, but I'm delighted to have signed."

Turner was one of four of the current crop of apprentices to be signed on at the Fraser Eagle Stadium, with a further seven missing out.

And the former St Theodore's RC High School pupil was handed the news after successfully completing a two-year apprenticeship.

He added: "All 11 of us gathered at the ground, and were told to go into the office one by one to be told if we were to be handed a contract.

"My youth team boss (Phil Hackney) was in the office as well, but they said it was up to me whether I wanted to sign it or not.

"Saying that, I jumped at the chance, and when I went home, my name was on Sky Sports!"

Turner has already featured in he first team for Stanley, playing the last four minutes as a substitute in the home game with Wycombe Wanderers in February.

That was his first taste of John Coleman's matchday squad, having only previously featured in four of Stanley's pre-season friendlies.

And he described the day he received his call to the first team: "I was supposed to be playing for the youth team, but our match was called off.

"I was just sat at home watching TV, and received a call from (Accrington assistant manager) Jimmy Bell saying that John (Coleman) wanted me for the first team squad.

"When I got there, there was a kit waiting for me with my name and number on, and I was told I was on the bench.

"All the way through the game he kept telling me to keep warm because I may be coming on near the end, and then he gave me the final few minutes.

"I could see family and friends in the crowd, which was fantastic, and it just gives you that appetite for more."

Turner started on the footballing ladder when he was just seven years old, featuring for Brierfield Celtic, and later, St Joseph's in Accrington.

He also spent seven years with Burnley's Centre of Excellence, until, at Under 16s level, he was released for being too small, adding: "They said my size was the reason they weren't going to take me on, but I've grown a lot since then.

"They also said I wasn't what they were looking for at the time, but that only made me more determined.

"It was then that I went for a trial with Accrington's YTS scheme, but I have also completed all my college work with distinctions.

"And that is all down to my coach, Phil Hackney – I can't thank him enough for what he has done.

"There are a lot of lads in my position who don't bother with college when they think they have made it, but I was determined to succeed in that as well.

"My aim now is to repay the faith that Stanley have shown in me, and get these first few years under my belt here.

"If I can do that, and cement myself in the first team, then who knows what might happen from there."