Every year across Scotland, a handful of young men fulfil their boyhood dreams when they sign full-time for a football club. Here at YFS we're putting the spotlight on the new kids on the block who've just made the grade from youth academy level to the professional game, as they make the next step in their promising careers.
As St Mirren gear up for their second year in the Championship, Jack Ross will be hoping to improve on his side’s performance last season. Narrowly avoiding the relegation playoff on goal difference, Saints fans will be hoping for more from their team this year.
In recent years the Buddies academy has produced real gems like John McGinn and Kenny McLean. Allan McManus, Head of the Youth Academy, has recently given three academy players their first professional contracts, who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Scottish internationals.
Speaking to the St Mirren club website, McManus said: “They are a fantastic bunch. As a team they did really well last season in the Under 17's league.
"The biggest thing for me outwith their quality is that they really want to be professional footballers. I don't think people realise when they come in here how hard you have to work to get to the levels required to be a professional footballer.
"There's no doubt with all the lads that we've brought in from the academy that it is what they want to do with their careers and they have that discipline and single-mindedness to improve and aspire to get to the first team as quickly as possible."
The left-footed 16-year-old striker signed his professional contract with St Mirren in May and has been playing and scoring goals in the development league for the Paisley side. Breadner raised eyebrows with a spectacular late goal against Dundee back in April, highlighting the forward from Paisley’s potential.
While playing for Linwood Rangers YC, Breadner helped inspire the team to victory in the 2013 Under 13's Scottish Cup final, where he scored before Linwood eventually won the game 2-1 after extra time. The striker started the PJ&DYFL Winton Murdoch League Cup final the same year where Rangers went on to lose late on. Breadner was also part of the Paisley and District Schools team that lost the SSFA’s Under 15's National Cup on penalties in 2014.
Writing about his contract on Twitter, Breadner said: “Absolutely delighted to have signed my first professional contract with St Mirren. Looking forward to this next stage in my football career.”
Back in May, Reilly signed his first professional contract with St Mirren and will be hoping to make a big impression on the St Mirren Under 20 team. The 17-year-old left winger has already represented Scotland, having been called up to the Scottish Schools’ U18 squad in December of last year.
Reilly played for his school team, St Ninian’s High School, regularly throughout his time there and was part of the side that won two Scottish Shields and eight Paisley and District League and Cups in just four years.
In May, Reilly – who comes from Glasgow - posted on Instagram, saying he was “buzzing to sign a new professional contract at St Mirren”.
16-year-old shot-stopper Wilson is a local Paisley lad and will hoping to break into the Saints’ development team this season. Wilson was part of the St Mirren U20s side that lifted the Portland Cup back in June and will hope to continue impressing McManus.
Wilson was called up for the Scotland U15s squad back in 2015 and impressed during his 30 minute display against Chile, having previously played for the U14s. The goalkeeper is a member of the Grange Academy SFA Performance Academy, which counts Dean Hawkshaw and Robbie Muirhead among its alumni.
Wilson clearly has great potential, evidenced by the fact that he is a year younger than many of his teammates. Speaking to the club website, McManus said the step up to the U20s was “massive…especially for guys like David who have actually came in a year younger than the rest of them”.
After signing his contract in May, Wilson posted on Twitter: “Proud moment signing my first full time professional contract with St Mirren. Thanks to everyone who's helped me, can't wait to get started.”