James Ward-Prowse is determined to repay the faith Southampton have shown in him since initially taking him on as an eight-year-old.
The midfielder, who was born in Portsmouth and grew up in a family of Pompey supporters, was spotted by the Saints in 2003 when they added him to their youth system. He went on to progress through the ranks at the club, and made his first team debut in October 2011 at the age of 16 when Nigel Adkins selected him to play against Crystal Palace in the League Cup.
When the St Mary’s outfit clinched promotion to the Premier League in May 2012, Ward-Prowse was one of four youth team players to be handed professional contracts. He has gone on to make 77 appearances for the club, scoring one goal and assisting in a dozen more, whilst he has also earned international recognition with England for whom he has 13 caps at Under-21 level.
As a number of key players left Southampton in the summer, including his former youth team pals Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw who joined Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, fans feared Ward-Prowse could soon follow suit. However, the 20-year-old feels he owes a lot to the club, and has proved this by signing a new contract which is designed to run until the summer of 2020.
“The club is in a fantastic position and ever since I joined at a young age I knew it was the right place to be,” he told the club’s official YouTube channel. “I fell in love with the place straight away. I’ve been on a fantastic journey, the club has too, and it’s great to extend my stay. I’m really excited for the next few years. You only have to look at the players we’ve produced to see it is the right place.
“There’s not many clubs in the country, or the world, who give young players the chance to play in the biggest league in the world. I’m very fortunate that I’ve been given that chance and now it’s time to repay the faith that the club have shown in me. It means everything to me. The club have always done their all for me to make sure I develop not only into a good footballer but a good person.”