Date: 30th June 2019 at 8:30pm
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Former Manchester City prospect Benni Smales-Braithwaite had already taken the sensible step to not get lost in the corridors of the Etihad Stadium and instead chose to progress his future in the game in Southampton’s incredibly successful Academy setup and on Friday afternoon, he was rewarded with his first professional contract.

The 17-year-old forward made the switch to Staplewood back in 2018 and pretty quickly worked his way into Paul Hardyman’s Under 18s side as a first-year scholar. He obviously impressed in his 19 appearances, with a contribution of three goals and he’s now put pen to paper on a three-year deal taking him through until the summer of 2022.

Academy manager Matt Hale told saintsfc on his capture.

“Benni is an example of a player who has come through our acquisition model at 16. Joining us last year following good work in our recruitment and talent ID areas, Benni was identified as a young player with real talent and lots of potential. He has a great eye for goal and has superb finishing technique, as well as being clever and imaginative which allows him to play as both a number nine and 10. He deserves his professional contract and we look forward to seeing him progress next season.”

With manager Ralph Hasenhuttl returning to the Southampton Way in his approach to life at the club, we know the opportunity is there again for our young talented stars to seize their moment and we’ll have to see if Benni can become one of the next ones to make their mark in the coming years.

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