Mason Mount has vowed to follow in John Terry’s footsteps and make the breakthrough at Chelsea.
That’s after the former Purbrook Park pupil last week put pen to paper on a first professional contract with the Londoners to seal the perfect 17th birthday present.
But the attacking midfielder, who rose to national attention on England under-17s duty in November with a wonder goal and assist in a 2-1 win over Germany, has also revealed another dream – to play at Fratton Park.
Portsmouth-born Mount trained with both Chelsea and Pompey as a young boy but dad Tony, a former non-league player and manager of Havant Town and Newport, admitted the lure of the current Premier League champions proved too strong.
He said: ‘As a kid, Mason trained with both Chelsea and Pompey, although I must say Chelsea were the first to spot him at the age of six, while he was playing for Boarhunt under Kev Neal and John McLaughlin.
‘Pompey offered him a place in their academy at the age of seven and were spot on with us.
‘Unfortunately, it just couldn’t compare with what he was doing at Chelsea – the level of football was amazing and we knew he would be given the opportunity to travel and play in tournaments across Europe.
‘But to have been with Chelsea since the age of six and gone the whole way through the age groups speaks volumes of Mason’s commitment and desire – he lives and breathes football.
‘It is every boy’s dream to sign a professional contract and it was an amazing day and moment for the family to share with him.
‘We have had unbelievable interest in Mason from other clubs but his response has always been: “I want to get into the first team here”.
His dream is actually to play at Fratton ParkTony Mount, father of Mason
‘I told him one of the toughest things he will ever have to accept is John Terry is the only academy boy to make it into the first team in the last 20 years – and reality is it’s not going to happen for him.
‘He just looked at me and said: “I will be the next, it’s going to happen and I will do it”.
‘How can I argue with that?’
Mount Snr believes his son’s Portsmouth background has given him an edge in his early career – even if he has received some stick for his support of the Fratton Park club!
He said: ‘England see him as a creative player. He has an eye for goal as he showed against Germany.
‘And it is as a goalscoring midfielder he stands out a little bit.
‘You can’t ignore the Portsmouth aggression in him, though!
‘Normally, you are either a ball player or a tough-tackling Roy Keane-type centre-midfielder – Mason has got a bit of both, which gives him an edge.
‘I have to say he is a mad Pompey fan still, the whole family are.
‘And even now, Mason gets a lot of stick from the boys at Chelsea for it!
‘He went to watch Pompey against Crawley earlier this month.
‘His dream is actually to play at Fratton Park. He has played all over Europe and at unbelievable grounds from Stamford Bridge to Moscow.
‘I find it quite comical because I actually played there in my non-league days and he hasn’t!’