Young forward delighted to agree first professional contract with the Valiants.
- James Plant | “I am over the moon, proud and looking forward to the future”
- Werrington-based youngster has agreed first professional contract at Vale Park
- Plant: “All of the support I have had this year has been massive for me and helped me to grow as a player and as a person as well.”
Port Vale youngster James Plant could not hide his delight as he agreed a first professional contract with the club just a week after making his first league start for the Valiants.
Plant, 18, has agreed a two-year contract at Vale Park, and spoke to iFollow the Vale this week about the proud achievement of agreeing his first professional contract with the club.
“I am over the moon,” he said. “I am proud of myself and thankful for all of the support I have had. I am looking forward to the future.
“It has gone so quickly and I have been taking every challenge in my stride and trying to do the best I can every day.”
The reward of a professional contract caps an excellent fortnight for the Werrington-based youngster, as he followed up his league debut against Oxford United with an impressive display on his first league start against promotion-chasing Ipswich Town last week.
Speaking about the experience at Portman Road, he added:
“I have said to everyone I have spoken to that it was like nothing I have ever done before in my life,” Plant explained. “With that many fans there, it felt like they were so close to me as well, it was a moment I will never forget.
“The staff have been telling me that if I kept grafting, my opportunities would come. Working with them every day, they are so supportive of me and have helped me in different ways, whether it has been physically, mentally or technically and tactically.
“Before the Ipswich game, it was about making sure that I was ready mentally because it was going to be a challenge for me and I don’t think I could have done it without the senior players and staff, who told me to play with confidence and show what I could do.”
Plant’s year has included impressive loan spells at Nantwich Town and Salisbury, having helped the Valiants’ Under 18s progress to the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in ten years.
The youngster was handed his senior debut in the Papa Johns Trophy, featuring three times for the Valiants in the competition before his league debut came against Oxford United on Easter Monday.
“It has been a long year but I have loved it,” Plant added. “I started with the 18s, working as hard as possible and waiting for my chances. I then went on two loans, which were massive for me and helped me to grow as a player.
“I went to Nantwich first and it was my first taste on men’s football so it was about building myself into it and getting used to the level.
“After that loan finished, I came back to the Under 18s and was playing well, I felt physically stronger and then got the opportunity to go on loan again and with it being my second loan, I was more confident and Salisbury were so good to me and Tommy [McDermott] they supported us so well. I loved both of the loans.”
Plant also explained that his physical development has been down to extra work with the club’s strength and conditioning coaches, who created a bespoke programme for the youngster to help him with the demands of progressing to men’s football.
“It comes naturally but in the last year I have definitely worked harder at it because when I went to Nantwich I realised the physical level I had to be at, even playing in leagues below the Vale,” he continued.
“I knew League One would be a physical league so it has been about doing as much work as I can, without overworking myself.”