Ed Dryden has completed a ‘whirlwind’ move to the Premier League.
The 18-year-old has sealed his switch from Wessex League premier division Petersfield Town to Stoke City after impressing the Potters in a week-long trial.
He has penned a 15-month contract at the Britannia Stadium.
Dryden has been a driving force in the current Rams campaign – with Ian Saunders’ side fighting for silverware on three fronts.
And the teenager, who previously had a trial with Chelsea and has been on the books of Aldershot Town, has wished them well.
Dryden said: ‘It’s all happened in a bit of a whirlwind.
‘I’m still surprised it is all happening but it is very exciting to be joining Stoke City.
‘After my trial at Chelsea and my time at Aldershot Town, I’d forgotten really about having a career as a professional footballer.
‘But it is all coming back to me now and it is really exciting.
‘I’ve enjoyed all of my time at Petersfield Town.
‘Working my way up through the youth team and reserves last season and playing for the first team this season.
‘I have learnt something from every one of my team-mates.
‘They have all given me something which has helped me to get where I am now and they have all been great with me.
‘My hope now is the Rams go on to win the premier division title and win the two cup finals they are in to complete the treble.
‘And I hope to be able to get back and watch as many of their remaining games as I can.’
While on trial, Dryden featured for Stoke’s under-18s against Derby County, Everton and Bolton Wanderers.
Although Saunders is disappointed to lose one of his key players, he was delighted for the talent.
And he reckons Dryden’s rise sends a positive message to any ambitious young player in Wessex League football.
He said: ‘I’m really pleased.
‘Stoke have been very impressed with him and that reflects well on both his family and on our football club.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity for Ed and I have every confidence in him he will go up there and be a success at Stoke.
‘He came into our club last season and played for the youth team and reserves, gaining some valuable experience as he moved up through the ranks to the fringes of the first-team squad.
‘He made his first team debut in the FA Cup in August and hasn’t looked back since.
‘He has played superbly for us all season and when you take that into consideration.
‘It is no surprise he has attracted the attentions of not just Stoke City but a whole host of clubs who have watched him this season.
‘It shows as well the kind of players we are attracting to Petersfield.
‘And we have plenty more young, talented players who have the ability to come through and attract the attention of bigger clubs.
‘It also shows players that clubs from the very top league in the English game are looking at this level of football for players.
‘So if things have not worked out at another club, young players should consider playing in the Wessex League, gaining experience and catching the attention of a pro club to earn their move back up the levels.’
Details of what Petersfield Town will receive in return for the transfer are still to be announced.