We are delighted to confirm that five of our title-winning Under-18 squad have recently signed first-year professional development contracts.
Captain Jacob Pinnington, Zack Nelson, Joe Johnson, Jayden Luker and Axel Piesold have all been rewarded after they impressed for the Under-18s this season. The young Hatters won the EFL Youth Alliance South East title by 12 points and reached the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup.
Development squad head coach Adrian Forbes said “it’s brilliant” that the five players have signed professional development contracts at Kenilworth Road.
“I think it’s important to highlight how hard they’ve all worked this season”, said Forbes. “It has been well documented how well the Under-18s team have done as a whole under Macca [Alan McCormack]. The work that they’ve put in on the training ground has certainly reflected on the performances.
“When these players have stepped up and played in the Development squad, it’s been a nice transition for them and they’ve ended up with contracts that they thoroughly deserve. We want to build an academy where we get players that come through the academy and then, hopefully, go into the first-team squad here to be with Rob Edwards.
“That’s what we want and that’s what we’re striving to achieve, and I think it just shows that the work we’re doing within the academy is allowing us to hopefully achieve that in the next few months and years, adding a bit of longevity to what we’re doing with bringing players through, and I think we are doing that.
“It’s now a case of those boys that have been given those contracts, knowing that it’s not ‘job done’, it’s the next step on their ladder. Now they have to continue to work hard, listen and take in the information that is being given to them by all the coaches at the club and hopefully that will lead to them getting minutes for the first-team at Kenilworth Road. That is what they are striving for and that will be a great reward for all in the academy if that happens.”
18-year-old Pinnington joined the Hatters when he was 15 years old after playing locally in Harpenden. The full-back led the young Hatters as captain to the EFL Youth Alliance South East title and the FA Youth Cup Fifth Round for the first time since 2016.
17-year-old attacker Nelson began at Tottenham Hotspur academy when he was a seven-year-old. After being released by Spurs at 15, Nelson joined the Hatters after a successful trial. The Enfield-born forward scored a hat-trick against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s in the FA Youth Cup Third Round before netting at Kenilworth Road against QPR in the Fourth Round this season. Nelson has been an unused substitute for the first-team on three occasions this season.
Born in Barnet, 17-year-old defender Johnson began his career at Arsenal academy when he was six years old. After being released by the Gunners four years later, he joined grass-roots club Focus Football before joining the Hatters in 2020. Johnson appeared on the bench for the first-team in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay at Grimsby Town in February and scored against Birmingham City at St Andrew’s in the FA Youth Cup Third Round.
Peckham-born central midfielder Luker played mostly for Lambeth Tigers growing up before joining the Hatters last summer. The 17-year-old scored against Luton Town playing for ProDirect East London academy at The Brache, leading to him being offered a trial at Kenilworth Road. Luker was an unused substitute in the first-team’s 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic in the Emirates FA Cup Third Round.
Muswell Hill-born defensive midfielder Piesold joined Tottenham Hotspur academy when he was seven years old. The 17-year-old left Spurs and was playing for Dunstable Town before he signed a contract with the Hatters in January after an extended trial. Piesold was also an unused substitute for our Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay at Grimsby Town.