News. United trio sign first professional contracts

14 Jul 23

Teenage trio Ben Parkinson, Ciaran Thompson and Shaun Mavididi have all put pen to paper on their first professional contracts with Newcastle United.

Parkinson and Thompson, both boyhood supporters of the Magpies, have agreed full-time deals after progressing through the club’s Little Benton Academy whilst London-born winger Mavididi has also agreed a first pro contract with United.

Parkinson, who joined Newcastle’s youth set-up at the age of seven, is a striker who is capable of playing on the wing and completed a bright 2022/23 campaign in front of goal.

The Durham-born youngster recorded five goals and two assists in 11 Under-18 Premier League fixtures last term along with scoring three times in the young Magpies’ FA Youth Cup campaign, captaining the Toon Teenagers in the process before exiting at the fourth round stage.

The 18-year-old forward also scored twice in his opening three Premier League 2 matches for Newcastle’s under-21 side and his positive performances have resulted in a maiden pro deal, 11 years on since first arriving at the club’s Academy.

Parkinson told “I’m absolutely over the moon to sign my first professional contract. It’s a huge moment, personally, but also for the people around me who have had to sacrifice their time and effort in order to help me get to this point and to do it here at the club I grew up supporting makes it even more special.

“`There has been moments that really stand out this season, with one being the two FA Youth Cup games we had. I scored twice against Charlton to win 3-2 (at The Valley) and then, despite the result, my goal against Arsenal in the next round. It meant a lot to score in front of fans at St. James’ Park.

“I also enjoyed my goal against Leeds for the under-21s as it was my first at that level in a really tough match.

“I think I have benefited a lot from stepping up to the under-21s as it made me realise the level, physicality and pace I needed to match so that I could compete and do well.

“The challenge I enjoyed was coming up against bigger and stronger defenders and trying to find ways of getting the better of them. I think going into next season, understanding and knowing what to expect is a good thing."

Thompson is a defender, who joined Newcastle’s youth system at the age of 13, and made his debut for United’s second-string in February and is hoping to emulate Elliot Anderson’s route from Academy to first-team football.

The Blyth-born teenager said: “I’m delighted to sign my first professional contract at my boyhood club. It’s a special feeling and a dream come true to sign for the club I grew up loving and supporting.

“Being here since the age of 13, I never thought of getting this far and I would never change my journey to this point now, which has been full of highs and lows.

“My main highlights from last season would certainly have been making my under-21s debut and beating Charlton at The Valley in the FA Youth Cup.

“The experience I have gained playing with the under-21s has been very valuable as it gave me a taste for what the next couple of years will look like, especially playing out of position at right-back. It was a challenge to adapt to that role but a one I really enjoyed.

“I think Elliot (Anderson) is a good example as to how he progressed into the first-team. His pathway included a loan spell in which he did very well and gained lots of good experiences playing men’s football which I think is very important."

Mavididi, who joined the Magpies' youth set-up from Arsenal in the summer of 2021, is a winger who featured regularly for Newcastle's under-18 side last term, making 26 appearances for the Toon Teenagers.

The 17-year-old, targeting a competitive debut at under-21 level, is relishing the prospect of competing in the UEFA Youth League.

The Romford-born teenager said: "My main targets for the upcoming season are to play as many games as I can and help the team do well in the UEFA Youth League.

"I'm over the moon to sign my first professional contract. It's something everyone around me has been working towards to get me into the position I'm in now and I'm very grateful, especially signing it at a club that's in a fantastic position.

"There's a good buzz going around the club and the future looks so exciting. My main highlight from last season would be the FA Youth Cup win against Charlton. From a personal point of view, I suffered a hip fracture and was out for three months but that was my first game back and it was full of emotion ending in a 3-2 win.

"It was a nice feeling, everybody was pleased and it felt even better playing in front of my family."

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