Talented young midfielder Freddie Potts has signed his first professional contract with West Ham United.
The 17-year-old Academy of Football product has been rewarded for a fine 2020/21 season with a three-year deal until the summer of 2024.
During the campaign, Potts – a first-year Scholar – featured on 21 occasions for Kevin Keen’s U18s team before later also becoming a regular for Dmitri Halajko’s U23s.
Son of two-time Hammer of the Year and current U23s coach Steve, and brother to former Hammer and current Luton Town left-back Dan, Freddie made seven consecutive U23s starts from early March, scoring his first Premier League 2 goal against Leicester.
A calming, conscientious and composed influence in midfield, the teenager also earned widespread praise for how he acquitted himself on the right-hand side of a back three.
After penning his first professional contract in Claret and Blue, Potts reflected on an impressive last 12 months with fondness – but also a renewed drive.
I’ve been supporting them all my life, and to sign my first professional contract with the Club is just a special moment that I’ll remember forever
“It’s a massive moment for me as a massive West Ham United fan,” Potts told West Ham TV.
“I’ve been supporting them all my life, and to sign my first professional contract with the Club is just a special moment that I’ll remember forever.
“I’d like to thank many of the coaches that I’ve had: Kevin Keen came into the U18s, and he and Mark Phillips helped me out a lot with the new environment of U18s football. Dmitri and my Dad, the U23s coaches, also helped me at the end of last season coming into the team, and that really helped me develop as a player.
“It’s been a really successful season for me, making my U23s debut against Tottenham in January. As a player, I think one of my biggest targets was to stay consistently an U23s player, so that was a massive thing for me.
“It’s always been the dream to become a professional football player. Now that it’s out of the way, it’s also pushed me and motivated me to get even better as a player. It’s really going to push me on this season.”
Development squad lead coach Halajko added: “Freddie had a really good season last season, going into the U23s and becoming one of the top performers.
“He was one of the players who really helped turn our form around at the back end of the season, putting in some unbelievable performances.
“He deserves this new contract, and will hopefully continue this year where he left off last season.”
Barking born-and-raised, Potts has been developing with the Academy since the age of six-years-old, impressing many with his hard-working and skilful displays.
The midfielder is well aware of the precedent his name carries in east London, and having joined the Academy of Football at such a young age himself, has witnessed first-hand those closest to him reaching such heights.
Yet while the temptation might be to draw parallels with his lengthy familial association with the Club, Potts is treading his own path as a West Ham United player.
Indeed, it is another Academy footballer that the youngster admits to drawing inspiration from.
Potts explained: “Obviously my Dad’s been through it, my brother’s been through it, and now it’s me, so I’m just proud to be here as a West Ham United professional footballer.
“They’re really proud of me, of course, but they’ve tried to keep the history away from it because it’s my career.
“Some people might think that would come with pressure, but I don’t really see that; they’ve helped me out quite a lot as a football player to develop at this Club.
“Declan Rice has been my role model since he’s pushed through into the first team.
“The way he’s gone through the Academy to become the player he has now – as West Ham captain and to play in the Euros at the moment with England – that really inspires me to try to follow his journey.
“Playing a similar position to mine, and just seeing how he’s developed into such a good player, I think that could really help me and my career.”