Talented teen is hailed a ‘star in waiting’ after signing first pro deal

Jake Gray
Jake Gray

A talented footballer from Aylesbury has been described as a ‘star in waiting’ after signing a pro deal with Championship title hopefuls Crystal Palace.

Midfield dynamo Jake Gray, 17, who only moved from Wycombe Wanderers’ old youth set up to the Eagles’ academy in the summer, has completed his footballing education and been rewarded with a first deal, which runs until the end of the 2014/15 season.

The former Grange School pupil has made an instant impact by scoring a number of goals from midfield.

And he admitted to being surprised at his own progress.

He said: “I’m really chuffed.

“It was a shock seeing as I haven’t been here very long but I was really happy when it came,” he said.

“I’ve started a lot of games which is great seeing as I’m a first year.

“After a sticky start we pulled through and got six or seven wins on the bounce.”

The level-headed 17 year old (pictured) was quick to pay tribute to his coaches at Palace, saying they deserve a lot of credit as he now aims to impress Eagles boss Ian Holloway as they vy for a place in the Premier League.

“Ben and Gary Issott (Palace coaches) have improved my game quite a lot, especially my first touch, my passing and all round game sense,” Gray added.

Palace youth boss Issott explained how the club moved quickly to ensure they secured Gray’s services.

He said: “Wycombe’s academy collapsed in the summer and as soon as we heard we moved really quickly and invited Jake’s parents into the club and convinced him to sign for Crystal Palace.

“He’s scored a couple of great goals and has put in some really good performances from wide areas. He’s quick and strong and travels really well with the ball. “He’s an excellent wide player who works really hard for the team and he has a defensive side to his game too.”

> Read how another former Grange pupil turned pro

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