Bradey Norton is looking ahead to a make-or-break season for him after securing a non-contract agreement with Gosport Borough.
The 21-year-old central midfielder had a terrific season with Fareham Town in the Wessex League premier division last season and will now step up three levels.
Gosport are trying to get two players to battle for every position. It is up to me to go there prepared to battle for my place.Bradey Norton
Norton played a vital part in Fareham’s final-day escape from relegation and has ambitions to play at a higher level.
Borough narrowly missed out on the play-offs last season, so Norton knows it will be a big step up as they go for promotion from Vanarama National League South next season.
He said: ‘My experience at Fareham was massively important and has given me the confidence to move up.
‘Ever since I was a kid I have wanted to become a professional footballer.
‘Signing for Gosport can be a big step in the right direction.
‘I have signed for a year as a non-contract player and it is up to me to go there and prove myself.
‘It is the level I want to be playing at but I realise it will involve a lot of hard work on my part.’
Norton was at Pompey as a youngster before spending three years at the Hawks Academy.
He earned himself a one-year deal under Shaun Gale at Westleigh Park but chances were few and far between in the senior side.
Norton then went out on loan to Gosport.
At the end of the season he moved again, this time to AFC Portchester, only to pick up a hamstring injury in his second game.
It was a frustrating time and Norton moved on to Fareham at the start of last season.
Once he had recovered from his injury, he began to show his quality and scored vital goals to help the Reds complete their great escape when they had looked certain to be relegated.
Norton showed his goalscoring prowess with a number of hat-tricks, including a memorable three-goal burst in nine minutes against Hamworthy United.
Borough were short on goals from midfield last season and Norton is hoping he can help to make a difference in that area.
He knows manager Alex Pike is looking to build on his strong squad and ensure he has great competition for places.
Norton will face a fight to grab one of the places in the starting line-up.
But it is a challenge he will relish as he looks to make a big impression during the season ahead.
‘Basically, Gosport are trying to get two players to battle for every position,’ said Norton.
‘It is up to me to go there prepared to battle for my place.
‘If I can do that then it will provide me with the chance to get spotted.’
Norton believes he has shown the quality he can offer with his form for the Cams Alders outfit last season.
It’s a short move from Fareham to Gosport but a big jump up in levels.
He added: ‘My focus will be on getting my head down and working really hard.
‘At Fareham I showed I can score goals, playing just behind the front two.
‘It was an area the Fareham manager wants to improve upon.
‘I now have to show I can do the same at a higher level.’