TOM Hopper hopes 2012 will be the year he breaks into the Leicester City first team.
The teenager has had a memorable 12 months after signing his first professional contract with the Foxes... and receiving his first international call-up.
Hopper, whose family home is in Stickney, was the first player in his age group in the Leicester Academy to be offered a deal this term.
“It’s a good feeling knowing the pressure of getting a contract is off. But you can’t relax, you have to go on and keep proving you’re good enough,” said Hopper.
“It was a nice feeling, but it’s just one small step up a long ladder.”
After spending this season turning out for the under 18s and reserve teams, the striker hopes his contests with the second string will catch the eye of manager Nigel Pearson, as well as some famous teammates.
“I’ve got to work hard in the reserves to prove to people at the club that I’m good enough for the first team. Because, at the end of the day, it’s my aim to be there,” Hopper added.
“It’s a strange feeling to watch Gelson Fernandes score in a World Cup and then be playing alongside him.
“But you can learn a lot from players like that, which is good for me.”
With players such as Jermaine Beckford, Darius Vassell and David Nugent on the books, Leicester have an abundance of striking talent. However, Hopper pledges to work hard in a bid to turn out for his club’s first team.
This year also saw the youngster receive a call-up for the England under 18s, appearing from the bench in a 1-1 draw in Italy.
He previously became the youngest ever player to turn out for Boston United, aged 15 in a UniBond Cup match against Hucknall in 2009.