Teen defender explains what Stoke City have given him that Tottenham didn't

Jaden Dixon has signed a three-year professional deal as he turns 17 at Stoke City.
Jaden Dixon has signed a three-year professional deal as he turns 17 at Stoke City. -Credit:Stoke City

Jaden Dixon has the attributes and potential to be a very good centre-half and it sounds like he’s found a club to eke that out at Stoke City.

Dixon has signed his first professional contract as he turns 17 and it says a lot that he’s signed it at Stoke. It was a surprise to most in youth football circles when he was allowed to leave Tottenham last summer and Stoke, led by academy director Gareth Owen and head of academy recruitment Andrew Frost, were ready to pounce.

He has been taken under the wing of Ryan Shawcross, who should know a centre-back when he sees one, and pushed up from the under-18s to the 21s, who he ended up captaining. He even appeared on the first team bench at Leicester back in October and made his England under-17s debut in a 5-1 win over Northern Ireland in March.

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He helped Stoke reach the under-17s reach the Premier League Cup semi-final as well and that’s an interesting and exciting group. Most of the players in that side were coached by Jon Walters, now sporting director, when he was working in the academy. Sol Sidibe turned pro when he was 17 in February and has already been getting tastes of senior football. Freddie Anderson, son of Viv, signed up when he turned 17 in October.

In other words, he’s fitted straight in. He’s been tested in different positions, been demanding of and encouraging to his teammates. He’s athletic, aggressive and comfortable on the ball with a good football brain. There is work to do but he seems hungry to do it, asking Shawcross for clips to help his development. He will have to meet physical challenges too and he’s still growing but he’s in a good place.

“It’s an amazing feeling to have agreed a professional contract at Stoke City,” said Dixon. “I have enjoyed my time here so far and I’m continuing to progress. I feel loved and wanted here and I’ve been shown a clear pathway.

“Teammates and staff have shown how much they believe in me and that has given me the confidence to perform and improve this season, as well as giving me a real determination to continue progressing in the years to come.”

There have been other England youth call-ups this year for Sidibe, 19-year-old keeper Tommy Simkin and striker Nathan Lowe, also 18. Centre-forward Emre Tezgel, aged 18, is on loan at MK Dons in the League Two play-offs, centre-half David Okagbue, aged 20, has played regularly on loan at Walsall and Matty Baker, now 21, has been finding his feet on loan at Newport County.

And there are other junior players to watch out for coming through at Clayton Wood, including playmaker Jack Griffiths, defenders Christy Grogan, Jake Griffin, Jaden Mears and Josh Bickerton, midfielder Will Smith and forward Dean Adekoya.

The coaching, the facilities, the support, the pathway and the potential is all there – now for the hard part and trying to turn all that into a senior breakthrough in the next three, six, 12 or 18 months.

Which players are you excited to see at Stoke? Have your say in the comments section