Finlay Cross-Adair said it was a “dream come true” to have signed his first professional contract with boyhood club Preston North End.
Coming from a family of North End supporters, the young forward grew up watching the club who he will now represent until at least 2025.
Since joining as a ten-year-old, Finlay has progressed through the Academy, going on to make his senior bow in October against Stoke City, before also featuring last weekend against Blackburn Rovers.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, Finlay said: “It’s a massive day; it’s a dream come true.
“Ever since I signed here at Preston, the goal was to get a professional contract and to have signed it today is a dream come true.
“I’m really proud, especially of this season. If you’d have told me at the start of the season I’d have made my professional debut, came on at Ewood Park, and signed my professional contract today, I’d have said ‘no chance’, so it’s really special.”
The 17-year-old, in the second year of his scholarship, first really became involved in the first team during the September international break.
Since then, he’s almost exclusively spent his time at Euxton, learning from those more senior than him on the training pitch.
“It’s definitely different,” he said, in comparison to playing with the U19s.
“I can’t come up here and be at 80 or 90 per cent. No disrespect to the youth team, but I can maybe go there and train at 80 per cent and get away with it.
“But here I won’t be able to get away it. I’ve found that in a couple of sessions where I might have gone in half-hearted and I’ve found out, so you need to be on it all the time, and the step up is big.
“I’ve enjoyed it and it’ll only be make me better.”
Finlay has certainly impressed during training, with manager Ryan Lowe expecting him to be a “real asset” for the football club moving forward.
As a former striker himself, the manager has been working closely with Fin in his development, and he was pleased to be able to give the youngster some more minutes in last week’s victory at Ewood Park.
Finlay said: “It was unreal. I’d probably go as far to say it was as good as my making my debut, if not better.
“Don’t get me wrong, making my debut was special, but I think the fact we were winning as well, and it was at Ewood in front of four and a half thousand North End fans, it was special.
“I know I only got five or ten minutes, but it was really special – fantastic really.”
The former Longridge Town youth is not ready to rest on his laurels, though, as he hopes to build on the recent opportunities.
Asked what his aims are, Finlay replied: “I just think to stay in and around the matchday squad and hopefully get a few appearances under my belt.
“I think we mentioned earlier in the season about the FA Cup coming round so hopefully I can get a few appearances in that.
“Like I said, just staying in and around the squad, learning from the senior boys and just trying to improve every day.”