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Tanworth-in-Arden's Johnny Johnston, 17, eager to impress after signing for Championship side Blackpool

AFTER signing a professional contract with Championship side Blackpool, striker Johnny Johnston is giving it his all to break into the first team as soon as he possibly can.

Johnny Johnston is off to play football for Championship side Blackpool. Photo: Mark Williamson T16/6/21/9895
Johnny Johnston is off to play football for Championship side Blackpool. Photo: Mark Williamson T16/6/21/9895

The 17-year-old from Tanworth has signed a one-year deal with the Seasiders after impressing during a trial period a couple of months ago.

Johnston, who was a first-year student at the Future Pro Academy based at Racing Club Warwick, is now eager to make his mark at last season’s League One play-off winners.

“I was overwhelmed when I was offered the one-year contract because, as a kid, signing a professional contract is what you grow up to achieve,” he told the Herald.

“There’s a lot I want to aim for this season, one of those being able to play for the first team. As there’s no U23 side, it will be U18 football for now.

“There’s a lad at Blackpool a year above me who scored something like 16 goals in 16 games for the U18s and was then given a chance with the first team and made a few appearances.

“Hopefully I can score plenty of goals for the U18s this season and if I get my chance with the first team, I want to impress so the manager gives me a chance.

“I know the manager is very keen on bringing players through, so being at Blackpool is a great opportunity for me.”

The former Aston Villa and Coventry City youth player ended up on trial at Blackpool after scoring twice against them in a match when on trial at Wigan Athletic.

Despite his fine performance, the Latics did not offer Johnston anything, but the Seasiders liked what they saw and offered the forward another trial.

The trial at Blackpool, which included training four days a week and playing once at the weekend, could not have gone any better for the teenager.

Johnston scored twice against Salford City, twice against Manchester United and then once against Accrington Stanley. It’s this impressive form in front of goal which led to Blackpool offering Johnston a one-year deal.

When asked what Blackpool fans should expect when they see him on the pitch, Johnston said: “I describe myself as a hard-working player that likes to run around and ask for the ball.

“I like to make myself a nuisance for defenders and put in a hard challenge when the ball is there to be won. Also, when there is a chance that comes my way, I like to bury the ball in the back of the net.”

Growing up, Johnston looked up to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for inspiration, but stressed the career path of Jamie Vardy was something which really stands out.

Vardy started from the bottom, playing for Stocksbridge Park Steels before working his way up the pyramid with FC Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town before signing for Leicester City.

Here, the 34-year-old went on to make a real name for himself, firing the Foxes to the Premier League title in 2015-16 and becoming just the 29th player to score more than 100 Premier League goals.

“Everyone idolises Messi and Ronaldo, and so do I, but one player I really idolise is Jamie Vardy,” said Johnston.

“He came from the non-league scene and I was playing non-league football at 16. I really like Vardy, he loves a challenge, gets the fans jeered up and just loves scoring goals.”

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