THERE are huge expectations at Wolverhampton Wanderers that they have a raw diamond in their pack.
Zimbabwe’s teenage star, Leon Chiwome, 17, has just signed his first professional contract.
Born in Brighton, he was signed from AFC Wimbledon in July 2022 after being scouted while playing for Alfold FC and the Sussex Schools FA team.
Chiwome spent just over a year at Plough Lane before making the move to Compton Park as a scholar following an intensive period of scouting.
Academy manager for football, Jon Hunter-Barrett, has been delighted with the impact Chiwome has made, coupled with his attitude and application each day up to this point.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Leon at a great football club,” Hunter-Barrett said. “He’s a keen worker, great shape and size, knows where the back of the net is and really athletic.
“He’s progressed very well in such a short period of time having already represented the under-18s, under-21s and also England at youth level. He’s definitely got a lot of potential and it’s great that everyone internally and externally can see that.
“I want to give credit to our recruitment team who have done an unbelievable job in identifying Leon as a player with potential to come into the programme. Seeing how quickly and how well he’s progressed since coming here is testament to himself, but also to them.
“As much as we see a bright future for him, it’s important we take things step-by-step. Part of his plan is going to be under-18s and under-21s, as well as getting himself back into the England set-up.”
Harry Hooman, head of UK academy recruitment, has provided an insight into the process behind securing the services of Chiwome, suggesting that the striker had all the tools they were looking for in a number nine while still leaving plenty of room for development.
And despite being in the infancy of his Wolves career, Hooman has admitted that Chiwome has exceeded expectations thanks to his own hard work and the nurturing from coaches and support staff in the academy.
“Credit to the scouts and recruitment team as a whole who saw that potential in Leon,” Hooman said. “We felt he had all the attributes that we look for in a number nine and he can do a bit of everything, but was far from the finished article.
“He’s come in and progressed quicker than we actually envisaged. He’s got that real desire to improve which has helped and has been like a sponge since he’s come in.” – Wolverhampton Wanderers.